The Liver Bird  

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Calculated Risk Or Tactical Naivety?

I don't want to stand here and accuse Jurgen Klopp of having a lack or experience or judgement because that's just ludicrous but after a frustrating result against Villarreal right in the dying moments on Thursday evening, it's hard not to feel that the manager was perhaps just a little naive on this occasion.

Image via theguardian.com: A dejected Dejan
It's a Europa League semi-final first leg, I get it, you have to decide how you are going to approach the game and as soon as I saw Daniel Sturridge missing from the starting line up, I knew what Klopp was doing.

A calculated risk some would argue and one that nine times out of ten will pay off. Forget the striker, play things tightly, you still have the likes of Firmino, Coutinho and Lallana who will surely bag a goal on the break... surely? Well they didn't and this for me is where the naivety, stubborness or whatever you want to call it sets in.

Klopp watched that side hold out solidly at the back against Villarreal for the first 45 minutes but he also witnessed a lack of attack. I totally understand the desire to play things safe but for me after 45-60 minutes of watching nothing in the way of a serious attempt at goal, for me, you have to chuck a striker on. An away goal in a semi-final like this can be massively important and as the game went on I just bloody knew that Villarreal would find a late goal, I could just see it coming.

What was more frustrating is that Christian Benteke (despite only being on the pitch for about three minutes) proved that with somebody to aim for up top, the Reds would have made more of an impact. He was a focus for the likes of Milner and co and immediately got involved in the action and this is Benteke, imagine what would have happened if Sturridge had got 20 minutes? I'll tell you what, we'd have buried them.

It sounds like I'm coming across really harsh, I don't mean to as I realise we're still in the driving seat even after going a goal down, at Anfield in a tie like this I'd always fancy our chances but I just find the result extremely frustrating. You play 90 minutes of tactically astute football and risk not pushing for a goal and for what? To lose in the final moment of the game.

One nil down isn't the end of the world, of course it isn't but don't come crawling to me if Villarreal manage to fire out the blocks at Anfield and find an early goal. I hope it doesn't come to that because I'm not so sure Liverpool have another European miracle in their locker this season.

Start Sturridge is all I'm saying!

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Just a quick note to say folks thanks for reading as always! I just want to apologise for the short/random layout of posts and scheduling/missing blogs over the next week. I've handed in my dissertation but I still have one big exam and one full piece of coursework to complete at Uni so am a bit snowed under!

Full normal service will be resumed shortly!!!

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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Rafa's Return Ends In A Draw for Reds

As always it was fantastic to see Rafa Benitez back at Anfield on Saturday afternoon but I just knew he would find a way to get the better of Klopp's side. I predicted a score draw and wasn't surprised at all to see our two nil lead disappear.

Image via skysports.com

Mamadou Sakho

It's hard to discuss this game without first discussing the news regarding Mamadou Sakho and a failed drugs test. I do not of course have full details with regards to the failure but from what I have read he's been taking illegal fat burners.

I can't condone that sort of decision from any footballer to be honest and I'm very disappointed to hear that Sakho has apparently been taking something that he should not have been taking. I'm diasppointed because I didn't think he or his fitness team would get involved with something like this but also disappointed because he's really been impressing me of late and it's such a shame that he's squandered a blossoming partnership with Dejan Lovren.

I suppose we will just have to wait and see what happens but I can't say I'm happy with the whole situation.

Lallana hit and miss?

Lallana scored a lovely goal on Saturday on the half hour mark to take Liverpool's lead to 2-0 on top of Sturridge's early goal. Lallana is a bit of a frustrating player for me though, he'll have matches like Saturday where he stamps his mark on the game, causing havoc for the defence and scoring a wonderful goal in the process but then the following game he can go completely missing.

I'm no tactical expert but I think the lack of consistency in an attacking formations is detrimental for somebody like Adam Lallana. It will be interesting to see whether he is embedded in Klopp's future plans once the transfer window comes around.

Mignolet mistake

What on earth was Mignolet doing for their first goal? The cross to Cisse seemed to take an age to enter the box which would surely mean Migs had enough time to assess the situation but it was easy as pie for Cisse who headed home Newcastle's first.

Conceding like that threw Liverpool off  course I think, Rafa's side only needed a glimmer of a chance and Mignolet gifted it to them. The confidence boost from there on out was enough and the equaliser from Colback ensured Newcastle walked away with a point.

Rafa Benitez

There aren't many managers in the world who would have their name sang by both the opposition and home fans, it was just brilliant to see.

Benitez was quoted by the Liverpool Echo as saying: "It's very emotional. The fans, the city, the club - I have a very good relationship with Liverpool obviously. My family still live here. It was emotional because the Liverpool fans were singing my name and afterwards the Newcastle fans were singing my name so really pleased to have this reaction and really pleased to get a point against a very good team."

Next up for Liverpool is a massive tie against Villarreal.

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Friday, 22 April 2016

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Newcastle

Rafa returns to Anfield on Saturday as the Reds welcome his Newcastle side to L4. It will be fantastic to see Rafa back on the touchline and as much as I hope he manages to keep Newcastle up, winning comes first and Jurgen Klopp needs to steer his side to another victory and continue a fantastic run of form.

Image via mirror.co.uk

Injuries

Divock Origi is unavailable for Liverpool after suffering ligament damage in the Merseyside derby however he may get the chance to feature again before the end of the season according to manager Jurgen Klopp. Also out are Christian Benteke and Jordan Henderson.

For Newcastle, Coloccini is still recovering from a groin problem and Daryl Janmaat is also out with a similar injury.

Previous Meetings

The last time the two sides met was in December last year, Newcastle won 2-0 partly thanks to a Martin Skrtel own goal. The last match between the two sides at Anfield was also a 2-0 scoreline, this time the Reds were the winning team with goals from Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen.

To find a win for Newcastle at Anfield we have to go all the way back to 1995.

Form

Liverpool have won their last three games in the league scoring ten goals in the process. At present, the Reds are 7th in the table on 54 points with a game in hand. Newcastle find themselves 19th at the moment two points away from safety. Their draw with Man City during the week and a recent win over Swansea has given Rafa's team a real boost.

Stat Sandwich


  • Daniel Sturridge has now scored 50 goals in 87 appearances for Liverpool.
  • Newcastle haven't picked up a point away from home so far in 2016.
  • Liverpool are unbeaten in their last five games in the league at Anfield.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Thursday, 21 April 2016

Five Things We Learned From Battering Everton

1) Everton really are shocking aren't they?

No offence to Everton... Actually yes, offence to Everton, they were bloody terrible last night. I know they've been having a dodgy season but I never expected the Merseyside derby to be so heavily one sided! 33 attempts to their 3 or something was it?! Unbelievable! 

Obviously the sending off didn't help Martinez's side but they can't claim they were offering much before Funes Mori saw red. The Everton back line was practically non existant and apart from a few flashes from the likes of Ross Barkley I am seriously struggling to find any real positive for them.

Image via the guardian.com 

2) Divock Origi's injury made me panic 

If you'd have told me at the start of the season that a crunching tackle on Divock Origi would cause me to have a mini episode I would of laughed in your face. The Belgian just didn't look like he was going to find his feet in the Premier League but as we have all seen this season he has earnt his spot in the starting XI.

It was a terrible challenge and the look on Origi's face suggested it was a serious one. Even knowing we had a superb back up in Daniel Sturridge the thought of having no Divock to call upon as we enter crunch stage in the Europa League was a frightening one. I just hope the injury is in fact only a sprained ankle as the press now seem to be reporting.

3) Sakho is a legend 

It's no secret that I'm one of few people who are not entirely convinced by Sakho's defensive abilities at the moment but as each game goes by he stems my doubt. He had another brilliant game on Wednesday evening but the thing I can't deny about Sakho is that he's an absolute top bloke.

You can see how influential he is within the team and how well he gets on with his counterparts. Running over to Kolo Toure being chased by the rest of the side after scoring was just fantastic to see. You can always rely on Sakho for some proper passion, just what you need in a Merseyside Derby!

4) No dubious goals panel is going to award a goal scored via the arse

After stepping up to take the place of the injured Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge was predictably immense, he's a real quality forward and bagged himself a goal just after the hour mark. 

Despite his genius however I find it hard to believe that his ludicrously cocky claim on Philippe Coutinho's strike will make it past the dubious goals panel. Only Sturridge would have the cheek to claim a goal scored with his cheek!

Coutinho's face said it all. "Jog on!" 

5) Smells like team spirit

Finally I think the real thing to take from this performance was the visible team spirit. To have beaten Everton so emphatically with four different goalscorers doesn't happen everyday but to do so while having a manager on the sidelines laughing at Lucas for having a pop at goal? Just priceless. 

Jürgen Klopp clearly has a special bond with his players and it's clear that the team are bonding far better under the German compared to the Brendan Rodgers days. I just hope they can go on to win the Europa League together now but if not I am massively excited for next season! 

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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Everton

Liverpool welcome Everton to Anfield on Wednesday evening as both sides are on opposite sides of the form scale at the moment. Everton boss Roberto Martinez is under immense pressure from his fan base for poor results in the league while Jurgen Klopp is idolised by Kopites all over after guiding his side to the semi-final of the Europa League. The contrast in fortunes of the clubs should make for a heated Merseyside derby.

Image via independent,co.uk

Injuries

Divock Origi picked up a knock against Bournemouth but according to several news outlets he could still be available for the derby on Wednesday. Definitely unavailable for Liverpool are Emre Can and Jordan Henderson who will not appear again this season for the Reds.

For Everton, Phil Jagielka and Seamus Coleman are both out with hamstring injuries. Ross Barkley should return to the starting XI after being rested.

Previous Meetings

The last time the two sides met was in October last year, the game ended 1-1 after goals from Romelu Lukaku and Danny Ings. Everton's last trip to Anfield also ended in a 1-1 draw this time it was Phil Jagielka and Steven Gerrard on the score sheet.

The Toffees have failed to win in their last five visits to Anfield in the league. In fact their last win at Anfield was back in 1999.

Stat Sandwich


  • Liverpool have lost only one of their last eight matches in the league.
  • Everton have only picked up 17 points at Goodison Park this season.
  • Daniel Sturridge has scored four goals in his last five Premier League games.

Betting

Click the banner image in the side bar to get a massive £30 free with Paddy Power when you sign up and place a £10 bet.

I haven't had a bet on Liverpool in a while because I'm a poor student but my loan went in this weekend so I'm sure I can spare a couple of quid! Haha.

I've had my eye on a Daniel Sturridge and Liverpool 2-1 win scorecast at 25/1. I'll probably also pop a quid on one of the defenders to score because the odds are better and you never know what could happen in a Merseyside derby.

If you think the game is going to end in yet another draw 1-1 is priced at 13/1 while 2-2 is down at 12/1.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Monday, 18 April 2016

Three Points From Bournemouth

It was another victory for Liverpool in the league on Sunday as the Reds continue on a great run of form just as it seems like they need it the most. Jurgen Klopp fielded a rather experimental starting XI with several youngsters getting a chance and squad players like Kolo Toure also featured.

                                                    Image via yahoo.com

Daniel Sturridge is back

I mentioned a few weeks back on the blog that it was wonderful to see Daniel Sturridge back but that his sharpness hadn't quite returned, well it had on Sunday against Eddie Howe's side. Sturridge had a cracking game, his movement and speed were just on point and anyone considering getting rid of this man in the summer transfer window needs a talking to in my opinion. 

He's clearly willing to fight for his place as can be seen with the tussle to start over Origi at the moment but more importantly when he's on form there are few strikers better and more consistent than him in the league. The big question of course though is the injuries? Can he stay fit and is Jurgen Klopp willing to gamble on that factor?

Time will tell.

Youngsters look lively

With such a young team on display it could have been very easy for some of the less experienced players to get lost on Sunday afternoon. The manager however clearly has faith in his players and they did not disappoint. 

In particular Ojo who failed to make an impression at my fella's club Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan certainly has been impressing me of late. He's nowhere near the finished product but his desire and ability to get past a defence is just superb. His skill was on display once again against Bouremouth and with more first team appearances I think he will only improve.

Jordon Ibe also played an importantl role, I've missed seeing him in the side of late and it was a wonderful free kick to set up Daniel Sturridge for the goal. Finally I think our young keeper Ward deserves a shout, he made some cracking saves as the pressure built from Bournemouth during the final portion of the game, it was just unfortunate that he couldn't prevent King's goal.                                                                      

Hand ball?

There were three hand ball calls in the game and it brings up that age old problem of "intent". I've never fully understood how a referee is supposed to fully interpret something as subjective as intent. In the pace of all the action it's rare they get these things right and it's no surprise.

To be honest though, looking back at all three incidents I only feel Bournemouth had a case for the Toure one. To me, that seemed intentional, the other two did not and I feel they would have been very lucky to have the decision go their way. 

Bonus: Mamadou Sakho takes hands free to the next level...


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Saturday, 16 April 2016

MATCH PREVIEW: Bournemouth V Liverpool

After the madness of beating Dortmund 4-3 on Thursday I genuinely forgot that we actually had to play a league game this weekend. How bad is that? Despite my memory lapse, we do in fact have to continue playing in the league and that means a trip down south for Jurgen Klopp's side as they prepare to face Bournemouth.

Image via www.theanfieldwrap.com

Injuries

Injuries for Liverpool have taken a blow this week after Emre Can ruptured his ankle ligaments in the Dortmund game. Also unavailable is captain Jordan Henderson and Christian Benteke remains a doubt.

For Bournemouth Benik Afobe doesn't look like he's going to make the game as he recovers from a hamstring issue. Harry Arter and Adam Smith are also unavailable for manager Eddie Howe.

Previous Meetings

The last time the two sides met was in the League Cup in October 2015. The 1-0 win over Bournemouth was Jurgen Klopp's first win as Liverpool manager as Nathaniel Clyne found the back of the net after just 17 minutes.

The last meeting between the sides in the league was in August last year, again a 1-0 victory for Liverpool, this time with Christian Benteke on the score sheet. 

In all eight meetings between the two sides in history, Bournemouth have yet to record a win.

Form 

Liverpool come into this game on a massive high after somehow getting past Dortmund in the Europa League and the Reds have also won three from their last five games in the league. Currently sitting in 7th at the time of writing, the Reds do still have a couple of games in hand against Everton and Chelsea.

Bournemouth are currently in 13th on 41 points. Eddie Howe's side have also won three out of their last five in the league.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have scored 20 goals in their last seven league games.
  • Bournemouth have lost four of their last seven league games at home.
  • James Milner has scored five goals in the league for the Reds so far this season and set up nine.

Betting

Deposit and bet a full £10 and get £30 free to play with, just click the Paddy Power add in the sidebar.

A 2-1 win for Liverpool tomorrow is currently down as 8/1, if you fancy a strong victory from Liverpool with no reply from Bournemouth 3-0 is priced at 20/1 while 2-0 is at 10/1.

Divock Origi has been on fire lately and he's currently 6/1, Dejan Lovren in case you've got your eye on him for first goalscorer is priced at 33/1.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Friday, 15 April 2016

"It's not explainable."

A dejected Thomas Tuchel attempted to describe his feelings on a game his side had somehow just lost 4-3, "It's not explainable" he said. He's right. When you watch a team like Liverpool on a European night at Anfield, there's something in the air, nobody is quite sure what it is, it's unexplainable, but it's there. The fans can feel it, the manager can feel it but most importantly, the players feel it. It's a presence that only Liverpool seem to hold and it's the reason you can never, ever write Liverpool off... ever.

An absolutely unbelievable game against unbelievable opposition.

Image via: mirror.co.uk
Before I go into a round up I would just like pay my respects to the 96 Liverpool fans who tragically lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster. Tomorrow marks the 27th anniversary of the disaster but justice is finally coming. Both fans also impeccably observed a minute's silence before the game. #JFT96

No German side has beat Liverpool at Anfield in 17 attempts and Borussia Dortmund sure as hell weren't going to get past us easily on an electric Thursday evening in Liverpool. With fans lining the streets hours before kick off, it was destined to be a special game but things got off to a terrible start for the Reds.

Scoring two goals in just nine minutes Dortmund had absolutely crushed Liverpool from the off. The first goal from Mkhitaryan was unfortunate as Mignolet did so well to save the initial effort from Aubameyang but he soon followed up with a lovely finish to secure Dortmund's second.

The Reds were dumbfounded. I fully expected Dortmund to score and cancel out that important away goal but I never expected it to be in such brutal fashion. For me, it was evident Liverpool were being broken down far too easily, I was quite surprised not to see Joe Allen starting in midfield to offer that extra bit of protection and some additional support for Divock Origi who could cause hassle with the correct service. However, Klopp had gone for a more attacking line up and to be fair we did get stuck in even after going two down.

The pressure though led to no goals and sure enough the first half whistle was blown. Liverpool needed three goals and while they looked like scoring it just wasn't quite happening for manager Jurgen Klopp.

Image via: theguardian.com
Expecting a change for the second half Kopites would have to wait a while longer as the manager decided to wait and see whether his side could take his half time motivational speech and convert it into some goalscoring damage. They did, via that man Divock Origi. It was a wonderful finish from the Belgian who picked up the ball from Emre Can and remained confident faced with the Dortmund keeper.

It was only a goal though right? The neutrals would still have you believe this was an impossible task? A mountain to climb? Wrong. The goal was just what Liverpool needed, it boosted the fans and it boosted the team, at 2-0 down the pretty decent performance was leading to nothing because the confidence wasn't there, at 2-1 you start fancying your chances at least you would do if Dortmund didn't spoil the party just nine minutes later.

There's no denying the pass from Mats Hummels and the goal from Reus were glorious, true Dortmund class but it was bloody frustrating to watch! After all that effort to find just a goal, just a glimmer of hope, Liverpool were back to square one. As a hardened Kopite though, that thought it always in the back of your mind, "remember Istanbul" ... "remember Olympiakos" ... "remember Alaves". You never actually believe you're going to do it, of course you don't, but you KNOW it's possible.

So, back to square one it is.

Klopp now knew he had to make a change and at 62 minutes a double substitution that I'd been craving since half time occurred. Joe Allen and Daniel Sturridge entered the fray. Just four minutes later it was Philippe Coutinho's turn to send Anfield wild.

A typical strike from the Brazilian taken with pure prowess from outside the box flew beautifully into the right of goal. 3-2, game on.

Now that glimmer had evolved into hope, like real hope, like hang on, we could actually bloody do this. I was all over the shop at this point, I can't sit still, my hands are in my mouth, on my head, tapping the table I just don't know what to do with myself, it's bloody horrible.

A whole ten minutes ticked by which is a long soddin' time in a European tie you're losing. But then, like a man possessed, Mamadou Sakho managed to dink home a header after a convenient deflection. I've not hidden the fact that I'm not utterly convinced with Sakho but I cannot dispute his passion, what an absolute hero and a real team player. It was immense! Here we were at 3-3 just needing one goal, one goal from anywhere to finally silence the black and yellow beast.

Four minutes were shown on extra time. Could we do it? Was it too late? Was it heck.

Image via theguardian.com
It's never too late and Dejan Lovren is a man who knows that. Just minutes earlier he'd absolutely spooned an angled volley high and wide over the bar, little did we know he'd get his chance to play the legend. 90+1 and James Milner after a series of diabolical low corners has picked up the ball from Daniel Sturridge and made it to the byline in the box, whipping the ball perfectly across goal there was Dejan Lovren. Rising like a Croatian salmon desperate to convince his national team coach that he should in fact take him to the Euros... It was like slow motion. Rising and rising eventually he smashed home the header sending the Kop End into an absolute frenzy.

Unbelievable scenes, just unbelievable. I'm still not quite over it all, my throat hurts, I've still got the shakes and I still can't believe that goals from Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren are the main reasons we've knocked Dortmund out of the Europa League and find ourselves in the semi-final. There are no words. Just superb!

Liverpool in Europe: utterly iconic.

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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Borussia Dortmund

A fantastic win over Stoke at the weekend gives Liverpool a huge boost going into this important fixture with Klopp's ex side Dortmund as the Reds look to progress to the semi-finals of the Europa League. The manager also has a tough decision to make up front as he must choose between Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge, many are predicting the former will get the call.

                                                      Image via dliga.com

Injuries

Injuries for Liverpool remain pretty much in the same state as they were for the first leg of this tie except of course that captain Jordan Henderson will not be available. Lucas has made a return and so may get a chance to feature at some point but there will be no sign of Christian Benteke who was fighting a losing battle to start ahead of Origi or Sturridge anyway.

For Dortmund, they have received a boost with some key players coming back from injury. Only Joseph-Claude Gyau and Neven Subotic are unavailable for this fixture.

Previous Meetings

The  last time the two sides met was of course just last week in the first leg that ended 1-1. It was a solid performance from Liverpool and a lot better than most fans were expecting. In fact Divock Origi very nearly scored a second in the game which could have gifted the Reds an all important lead in the tie.

The sides as discussed in the original preview have only met on a total of three occasions prior to this season and to be fair, Liverpool have always provided strong opposition to the German might.

Form

At home, the Stoke win gave Liverpool only their second win in five Premier League games at Anfield. It's no secret that Klopp has struggled with his side on their own turf but things have been improving of late. The Reds have only lost one game during the same time period at L4.

In terms of Dortmund's away record? The German side have lost just one in their last five trips away from home in the Bundesliga. However they only managed to collect a draw at Schalke this weekend, perhaps denting their confidence as they lost ground on Bayern Munich.

Betting

Liverpool are currently 15/8 to win on Thursday evening with Paddy Power. To take advantage of this offer simply click the image in the sidebar, deposit £10 and place it all on one bet to get £30 free to play with.

If you fancy Origi to bag another goal his odds for first goalscorer are: 11/2 and he's at 6/4 to score anytime. 

The game is obviously tightly poised with the advantage of an away goal for Liverpool but anything could happen on Thursday evening. I'm so excited for the game! Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!


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Monday, 11 April 2016

Comfortable Win Over Stoke For Reds

Liverpool manged to put four past Stoke on Sunday afternoon as Jurgen Klopp fielded a somewhat weakened side with one eye firmly on the second leg of his team's Europa League quarter final with Borussia Dortmund.

                              Image via itv.com: Divock Origi celebrates with Kolo Toure

Unfortunately I didn't see the game so this post will be very thin on the ground with just a few talking points I picked up from the full highlights.

Strong Squad?

After making seven changes to the side against a team like Stoke it's quite hard to believe that Liverpool managed to bag four goals to be honest and it got me thinking... is our squad actually a lot stronger than we give it credit for?

With players like Joe Allen and Sheyi Ojo featuring heavily on Sunday, maybe we do have some options? I'm not saying we have a top class squad by any means because let's face it some of these players are just bang average and we definitely need to invest in the summer. However, it's nice to know that alternate options are available for Klopp and can event work effectively.

For me, Klopp had to field a weakened side on Sunday because our best chance of getting into the Champions League is not via finishing fourth, that pipe dream is over, the only chance is to get past Dortmund and win the Europa League!

Daniel Sturridge

It was great to see Daniel on the scoresheet and even better to see him so thankful to youngster Ojo for a wonderful cross. Sturridge needed that goal to boost his confidence I feel and now alongside an in form Divock Origi, manager Jurgen Klopp has a really nice problem facing him in terms of striker selection. This brings me nicely onto the next point...

Should we consider playing two up top more often?

It's a system I've always liked and enjoyed taking advantage of but I can understand why many managers prefer one man leading the line. On Sunday however Origi and Sturridge were together for 45 minutes and for me the partnership worked brilliantly. Origi's work ethic cannot be faulted but Sturridge must also be praised for his awareness and link up play. It's a partnership I'd like to see more of but I'm not sure Klopp will be willing to change tactics against Dortmund on Thursday!

P.s. What a stike from Alberto Moreno eh?!

Apologies for the short post folks, normal service resumed on Wednesday with a full Dortmund preview!

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Saturday, 9 April 2016

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Stoke

After a brilliant performance against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday evening the Reds must feel like they can take on anyone at the moment but Stoke are famously hard to break down, can Klopp get the win at Anfield on Sunday?

Image via thisisanfield.com: Roberto Firmino against Stoke

Injuries

The big injury news of course involves Jordan Henderson who picked up an issue in the Dortmund game, initially it appeared he may be out for the season but manager Jurgen Klopp is hopeful that his captain may return sooner. Emre Can is also unavailable to start due to serving a suspension.

For Stoke, Whelan and Arnautovic are doubtful to start and Butland will also be unavailable for Mark Hughes.

Previous Meetings

The last time the two sides met was in the League Cup semi-final this year. The first match ended 1-0 with Jordon Ibe on the score sheet while the second leg also ended 1-0, this time to Stoke. Liverpool eventually secured their place in the final after winning 6-5 on penalties.

The last meeting between the sides in the Premier League was in August last year, it was another 1-0 this time with Philippe Coutinho finding the back of the net. Stoke have failed to win in their last five visits to Anfield.

Form

Liverpool have won three out of their last five in the league compared to Stoke who have won two out of their last five. Both teams have a slight issue defensively with Stoke having conceded 39 goals so far this season and the Reds conceding 41.  The positive for Liverpool is that they have scored ten more goals than Stoke during the season.

Stat Sandwich


  • Liverpool have scored 16 goals in their last six games in the league.
  • Stoke have only managed to keep one clean sheet in their last ten games.
  • The Reds have dropped 17 points from winning positions this season.

Betting

If you fancy placing a £10 with Paddy Power by clicking the link below you'll get a massive £30 free to play with!

Divock Origi certainly had the limelight on Thursday evening against Dortmund and he's currently 9/2 to score first against Stoke. With Jordan Henderson unfortunately set to potentially miss the rest of the season can Joe Allen step up and score in the process? He's down at 18/1.

In terms of scorelines if you fancy a score draw against the Potters 2-2 is 14/1 while 3-3 is 75/1. A 2-1 Liverpool victory is currently priced at 7/1.

I fancy a scorecast myself, if I get chance to place a bet I'll probably be going with Daniel Sturridge and 2-1 at 25/1.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Thursday, 7 April 2016

Three Key Points From The Dortmund Draw

Well, that wasn't half bad was it? If you'd of told me we'd leave Germany with an away goal and a draw prior to kick off I'd have bitten your hand off. The Reds put on a valiant performance at Jurgen Klopp's old stomping ground and should feel confident upon their return to Anfield.

1) Divock Origi is an absolute legend

Ok, maybe that's coming on a bit strong but I thought the Belgian utterly justified his selection over Daniel Sturridge. It was a bold decision by Jurgen Klopp to leave Sturridge on the bench but he was rewarded for his bravery after a strong performance from Divock.

Image via theguardian.com: Divock Origi scores for Liverpool
I'm guilty myself of perhaps not taking Origi seriously but he deserves nothing but praise for his 84 minutes. He always gives his all in every game he features in and against Dortmund his ability to run behind the defenders appeared to work perfectly. I thought he'd messed up the goal after what looked like a questionable first touch but he remained calm and scored on 36 minutes with the help of a slight deflection.

The only down side of course was that the second chance for Origi that followed minutes later was perhaps the easiest of the two. After timing his run perfectly and being one on one with the keeper he should have really found the back of the net.

2) Quiet Coutinho

I don't want to dwell on a negative because this result was a solid one for Liverpool but I felt like Coutinho went missing in this clash. He's definitely one of those players that can have an absolute stormer the one week and then barely feature the next. He just wasn't in the right positions and lost possession far too easily for me.

Perhaps the movement of Divock Origi took the shine off him slightly but even when he did get the odd chance to show off his skill or take a weaving run into the box, his usual final ounce of quality just wasn't quite there. Here's hoping he's back on track for the leg at Anfield because he's a big game player and we may just need another important Coutinho goal!

3) Defence: the good, the bad and the ugly

Finally, it's back to that age old problem, the defence. 

The good? This time out the good was definitely Mamadou Sakho who improved massively compared to his performance against Spurs. Some last ditch tackles and great awareness allowed him to keep Liverpool out of danger on several occasions on Thursday evening and he was massively helped by his partner Dejan Lovren.

The bad? Despite this partnership working almost faultlessly in open play, apparently when it comes to set pieces all that communication and awareness goes to pot because why on earty was 5ft 6inch Adam Lallana having to deal with 6ft 2inch Mats Hummels?! I'm not really sure why, but some of those organisational mistakes have to fall down to the defensive partnership I'm afraid. It's bloody frustrating to watch when we concede like that n'all after an otherwise solid performance.

Image via theguardian.com: Mats Hummels scores for Borussia Dortmund
The ugly? I'm afraid I have to pick on Alberto Moreno here on this occasion. Up until recently I was quite an advocate for the Spaniard, I even did a post for Shoot on how much I liked him and felt he had the potential to improve and remove mistakes from his game but I'm afraid now I'm not so sure. His positional awareness leaves much to be desired and whilst he's fantastic on the break he causes far too many problems with the gaps he leaves in defence, especially against a side like Dortmund!

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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

MATCH PREVIEW: Borussia Dortmund V Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp takes Liverpool to his former club Borussia Dortmund on Thursday evening in what is set to be a truly special Europa League tie. Kopites assumed the clash with Manchester United would be the most exciting bar an appearance in the final but all that changed when the black and yellows were pulled out of the hat.

Image via mirror.co.uk: Borussia Dortmund fans show their support for Jurgen Klopp

Injuries

Injurires for Liverpool mean they are unable to call upon Christian Benteke and Lucas Leiva, it also looks as though the game has come too soon for the influential Roberto Firmino who is still on the recovery path.

***UPDATE*** - The Liverpool Echo are reporting that Roberto Firmino may in fact be available for Thursday's game.

Dortmund on the other hand are looking relatively strong but midfielder Gundogan is set to be unavailable to play at the Westfalenstadion but could be ready for the clash at Anfield.

Previous Meetings

The two clubs have met on a total of three occasions in history. The first meeting back in 1966 in the European Cup Winners Cup ended in defeat for Liverpool as Dortmund won 2-1 after extra time. Roger Hunt was on the scoresheet that day, he would go on to win the World Cup with England in the following summer.

The most recent meetings between the sides occurred in the group stages of the Champions League in 2001. The first game in Germany ended 0-0 but the return leg at Anfield was far better for Liverpool with Smicer and Wright scoring to gift the Reds a 2-0 victory.

Form

In the league, Liverpool are currently 9th and have won three out of their last five but were held to a draw at Anfield last weekend thanks to a Harry Kane equaliser for Spurs. Dortmund have won four out of their last five fixtures in the Bundesliga and are currently in 2nd just five points behind Bayern Munich.

Betting

As you probably know it's the Grand National on Saturday so away from the footy don't forget to click the advert below and spend £10 on one of your flutters then get a massive £30 back!

In terms of the football...

Liverpool are the underdogs in the first of these two quarter final fixtures, the Reds are currently priced at 5/1 to win the match. You can also get odds of 11/1 for a draw in the first half and Liverpool to go on to win the game.

In terms of scoreline I quite fancy a score draw myself as we're not prepared enough in defence but I still feel we could score a couple if we start with that famous Jurgen Klopp pressure and tempo. 2-2 is currently 14/1.

For first goalscorers, Daniel Sturridge is priced at 9/1, Coutinho at 12/1 and Lallana at 16/1,

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!



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Saturday, 2 April 2016

Five Things We Learned From The Spurs Draw

1) Coutinho is Magic

                                                  Image via thisisanfield.com

It's no secret that Coutinho is one of, if not our most talented player at the moment and today was one of those days where he took the game by the scruff of the neck and made all the difference. The first real moment saw the Brazilian feed through a lovely ball to Daniel Sturridge who unfortunately couldn't convert but he would later link up with Daniel again for the goal.

The attempt at 51 minutes was a sublime finish assisted by a lovely one-two with Sturridge. Coutinho seems to be a big game player and you can always rely on him to come up with a stunning effort to put us into the lead. 

Two further moments in the game stick out, particulary when the number 10 made the byline with one of his silky smooth runs and whipped an effort from an impossible angle agonisingly close to goal. He  followed this up with another shot late on that trickled just wide. A brilliant game from Coutinho all round, I'm genuinely quite worried that he may leave the club in the summer.

2) Our defence can sometimes be tragic...

Liverpool's defence has been in a pretty dire situation for a long while now, if it isn't Martin Skrtel having a mare it's Mamadou Sakho the following week. Without going into my Skrtel debate which went down like a lead balloon on Twitter, the fact is our defence is bang average at the moment.

While Dejan Lovren appears to have improved massively over recent weeks it was hard to feel confident in Mamadou Sakho today who had a very poor game. On two occasions mistakes by the bumbling defencer left Lovren and Clyne having to deal with dangerous attacks from Harry Kane, luckily, for the most part, Harry was kept out of the way.

I fully expect Klopp to make some summer signings to improve the back four because evidently we can't go on like this.

3) Harry Kane is the real deal

                                                      Image via itv.com

Sometimes a player catches the attention of the british public and as a pessimistic bunch we tend to sit back and wonder when it will all come crumbling down but to be fair to Harry Kane, he clearly has no interest in failing. He's been phenomenal this season and it was no different on Saturday evening.

A quiet start fooled most into thinking Liverpool would manage to keep the youngster quiet but just after the hour mark he put Spurs back level in absolute style. After Eriksen successfully kept the ball in play, a pass to Kane in the box lead to immediate danger for the Reds. Kane's turn was just wonderful and he instinctly knew where the goal was, finishing with an effort to the far post.

4) Daniel Sturridge isn't quite ready

It feels like I may be being a bit harsh here because Sturridge did have his moments in the game, firstly after collecting a lovely ball through from Coutinho but the forward took his shot too early in a situation he usually scores in. A header in the second half also flew just that bit too high for him to finish and he did of course assist the Coutinho goal.

However he just doesn't quite seem to be fully back yet, I don't know whether it's as simple as match fitness but his movement which is usually brilliant was lacking and he never seemed to be in the box when the break was on. I also felt when we made the Origi substitution we should have left Sturridge on, I've said this for several months now but I do wish we'd try 4-4-2 once in a while.

5) Are we prepared for Dortmund?

Finally, are we prepared for Dortmund? I'm not so sure. We play some really nice football, good attacking play with real pressure and high tempo but we only seem to be able to hold that style of play for 45 minutes or so, after that period, players appear to get tired and mistake prone. If we haven't scored in our ascendancy of the first half we tend to lose control of the game, we may go on to score but the opposition always appear to remain in contention, we never seem to really bury a result at the moment, can we afford to be like that against the Germans?

One plus of course is that this is a team Klopp knows like no other, setting his side up against them and deciding on his tactics should be relatively straight forward but we need to ensure we walk away from Dortmund relatively undamaged to be in with a chance in the second leg!

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Friday, 1 April 2016

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Tottenham Hotspur

It always feels like ages since my last post after an international break, not helped by the fact I missed providing a Southampton match report because my dissertation is crushing me... Anyway, enough of my life, it's Liverpool V Spurs!

Saturday's big match could prove very fruitful for the Reds who could do with the three points after that disastrous Saints result. Liverpool would also play a big role in the title race if they managed to get a win over Pochettino's side, pushing the title ever closer to the hands of Leicester.

Image via www.premierleague.com

Injuries

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are still unable to call upon Lucas at the moment and at the time of writing, doubts remain over the fitness of Alberto Moreno, Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke.

For Spurs, Pochettino's side are looking pretty strong with just Vertonghen and Bentaleb definitely sitting out of Saturday's fixture.

Previous Meetings

The last time the two sides met was in October last year with neither side managing to find the back of the net at White Hart Lane. Spurs' last visit to Anfield created a bit more of an eventful game as Liverpool eventually walked away victorious after a 3-2 win thanks to an 83rd minute goal from Mario Balotelli.

The Reds have won four out of the last five meetings between the two sides in the league. In their last ten trips in the league to Anfield, Spurs have won on just one occasion.

Form

Liverpool are currently 9th in the table on 44 points, Klopp's side have won three out of their last five in the league but lost in embarrassing fashion to Southampton in their last fixture.

Spurs currently sit in 2nd place chasing down Leicester, Pochettino's side have lost just one game out of their last ten in the league.

Betting

£30 free to play with when you click the image below and place a full £10 bet with Paddy Power.

A straight win for the Reds on Saturday is priced at 6/4 at the moment while the draw is 23/10. I've been placing half time/full time bets a lot lately and I quite like the look of Draw/Liverpool for 5/1.

In terms of first goalscorers most will have their eye on Daniel Sturridge at 5/1 and also Philippe Coutinho who is priced at 17/2.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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