The Liver Bird  

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Five Things We Learned From Spurs Away

1) James Milner

Despite a dodgy moment which some would argue helped create Spurs' equaliser I felt James Milner deserved a highlight for today's round up. James is one of those players that sort of just gets on with it, he doesn't really like the limelight, always puts his team before himself and it was fantastic to see him score the penalty yesterday.

James Milner scores a penalty against Tottenham Hotspur
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His defensive performances of late have proven how adaptable he is, following up Moreno isn't exactly a difficult task but he has demonstrated that he is more than reliable at the back. Some players would raise concern with being moved out of position but Milner has just knuckled down and we all know how much Klopp loves a hard worker.

2) Premier League Badges

Whilst watching the game on Saturday I had a bit of an OCD moment whilst looking at the new Premier League patches and it appears our kitman or whoever irons them on may well be in for a rollicking off the Premier League brand managers because they've been stuck on bent...

I don't really like the new patches to be honest but there was just something strange about Liverpool's on Saturday. Our patches appear to have been lined up by the text when really it's the lion's head that should be lined up. See Spurs' for comparison...

Sadio Mane v Tottenham Hotspur
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That's my eagle eyed moment of the month anyway.

3) "You let your country down!"

Is this the most Southern thing to ever happen?

During the match yesterday when Jordan Henderson stepped up for a corner, a loud jibe from the Spurs end could be heard "You let your country down!" came the shout from the clearly disgruntled fan...

Firstly, who the hell cares enough about the national team to be shouting that at a corner? Secondly, Henderson hardly played unlike half your Spurs side. Thirdly, who shouts that? Just call him a twat like a normal person would.


4) Daniel Sturridge

His face said it all from the sidelines when Divock Origi was due to enter play and for me, I have to say he has a point. Daniel Sturridge may be injury prone and he may have had a quiet game against Burnley but he's a proven goalscorer and he should be featuring regularly.

I totally understand Klopp's decision to start with Mane, Firmino and Coutinho on Saturday as this formation tends to work well away from home but in the second half when you hit the hour mark for me I find myself constantly wondering why we don't just try two up top. Chuck Sturridge on with Mane? Or something to that effect. Danny had what, three minutes yesterday to try and put a stamp on the game? Pointless.

I have nothing against Origi either, really like him too I just think Sturridge could have made an impact against Spurs given some more game time but hey ho.

5) Is a draw a bad result?

Finally, I learned yesterday that some fans are extremely hard to please. While I can appreciate the frustration of not finding the net more often, for me a draw at White Hart Lane is a good result. If you'd have told me the game would end 1-1 before kick off I would have taken that.

Obviously it was a bit frustrating because for the majority of the game it felt as though Liverpool had the upper hand and some great chances but it just wasn't to be. Playing three away games on the trot will have it's pressures and collecting four points from Arsenal and Spurs away is pretty good in my book.

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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Five Things We Learned From Burton

1) Sturridge can still find the net

After a lacklustre performance against Burnley, it was nice to see Daniel Sturridge on the scoresheet twice in Burton on Tuesday evening. In the same way that the game acted as a boost for the Reds as a team going into the Spurs game at the weekend, I feel it was also very important for Sturridge to use the game as a platform, he's a confidence striker.

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2) Sadio Mane is a workhorse

I can quickly see Sadio becoming a cult hero amongst the Anfield faithful. He collected the man of the match award for his role in the game after providing an assist and generally just being a strong attacking threat. What really gets me though is the desire of Mane to be on the ball. You could name on one hand the number of Liverpool players in the last decade that would be chasing down balls like a man possessed with one minute to go in a League Cup game at Burton Albion that we were winning 5-0...

3) Scoreboard Etiquette 

Bit of a dig here, sorry Brewers! I just happened to noticed during the game one of those things that you would probably see quite often in the Championship and the lower leagues but would probably never spot in the Premier League.

Burton Albion's scoreboard doesn't show the actual name of the team it just says "Brewers". Some people are probably fine with that but for me it's up there with playing samba di janeiro after your on loan striker from Colchester has scored...

4) Klopp means business in the League Cup

Many were questioning Klopp's intentions at the start of the season, wondering whether he would field weakened sides in the cups in order to focus on the league. With Liverpool out of Europe it seems natural to want to focus on the league but evidently fielding weakened sides is not entirely on Klopp's radar. 

It was an extremely strong team last night, the only real player I would have drafted in is Coutinho. If that team started against Spurs I would be very happy. The downside of course is that when failing to rotate, players may get injured. I haven't heard an update on Can or Origi at the time of writing but fingers crossed they are ok! 

5) Matip looks strong 

It's the first proper chance I've had to take a look at Matip and while it's "only Burton Albion" and "only the League Cup" I still feel as though you can take positives from a game like that. The clean sheet of course is a real bonus but his awareness and communication with his fellow teammates appears to be solid. I hope he continues to feature in the back four so I can analyse in more detail as the weeks go on.

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Monday, 22 August 2016

The Brewers

Liverpool travel to Burton-upon-Trent on Tuesday evening for their first League Cup match of the season. Burton Albion or The Brewers as they are known are a bit of a rags to riches fairytale, the club won the Conference in the 2008/2009 season and have reached the Championship in just six years.

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Jurgen Klopp hinted in his latest press conference that it is not likely seven or eight players will be switched for the tie on Tuesday night. In terms of injuries Liverpool are looking relatively strong and it is rumoured Joel Matip and Marko Grujic could feature.

For Burton they are unable to call upon John Mousinho who has a hamstring injury. A doubt hangs over the fitness of Tom Flanagan who has a thigh issue and John Brayford is unfortunately cup tied.

This game is the first time the two sides have ever met but Liverpool have a hit and miss record when it comes to lower ranked sides in the League Cup. After a poor performance against Burnley at the weekend the Reds will be looking for a boost on their trip to the Pirelli Stadium. On the flip side, Burton probably feel like we're ripe for the taking.

I saw Burton Albion play once at the Pirelli when my fella dragged me to a Wolves friendly. While you couldn't take much from the game due to the friendly aspect it is clear to see that they are no mugs, especially not on their prized home turf. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink did a great job managing the Brewers during the short time he was present but the returning Nigel Clough was the perfect man to re-take the helm.

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Burton have featured against Premier League teams in the League Cup on recent occasions and have had mixed fortunes. A loss to Fulham on penalties in 2013/2014 was followed by a win over Queens Park Rangers in the 2014/2015 season.

Liverpool on the other hand have had some very strong League Cup runs of late, namely of course going all the way to the final against Manchester City last season. The Reds are certainly no mugs in this competition and I get the feeling that Jurgen Klopp will have his eye on some cup silverware especially considering his side are not in Europe this season. Some argue he needs to focus solely on the league but I've always taken the opinion that if you want to be a truly great club, you've got to deal with it all, you can't just water down a game in order to press in another, plus, we lost to bloody Burnley anyway!

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Friday, 19 August 2016

Trip To Turf Moor

Liverpool will not be facing Burnley at Anfield on Saturday afternoon as the original fixture list dictated, instead the Reds are off to Turf Moor after a deal was agreed to switch the home and away ties due to the stadium redevelopment.

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If, like me you haven't been keeping completely up to speed with the redevelopment, here's a quick run down.

The expansion of the Main Stand began in May 2016 and the project has seen an extra 8,500 seats added taking Anfield's total capacity up to approximately 54,000. The movement or expansion of Anfield has been a long time in the making, partly thanks to our disingenuous previous owners Hicks and Gillett with their "spade in the ground" nonsense but also thanks to a tough process of brokering a deal with the local council and homeowners.

In the end, it was agreed the expansion would go ahead. I don't get up to Liverpool and/or Anfield anywhere near as much as I would like as many of you know but I was up there in February doing surveys for my dissertation. Approaching the ground from Kirkdale was a powerful sight, the new structure looms over the rest of L4 and is a fitting addition to the famous ground.

See the video below for a brilliant aerial view of the new development.

The Hillsborough Memorial was also spotted being reinstalled this week and the club has announced that the public spaces outside the Main Stand will now be called 96 Avenue and Paisley Square.

What about Turf Moor?

Well, Anfield is an old ground as we all know, built and opened in 1884 but Burnley's home tops that having been opened in 1883. Like Liverpool, Burnley have remained at their ground ever since.

With a capacity of just over 21,000 Turf Moor seats considerably less than Anfield but the noise levels could fool many. The pitch at Anfield is one of the smallest in the league measuring 110 yards by 74 yards. Burnley's pitch is four yards longer but two yards narrower.

Brief Preview

If you follow me on Twitter you'll know by now that I'm trying to shake things up on the blog slightly. With two jobs held down now I can't always guarantee an in depth match preview or even a post at all so touching upon whats "in the news" at LFC may become a bit of a thing.

Injury news for this fixture though sees Daniel Sturridge and James Milner potentially return to action. There is some bad news though as Sadio Mane remains doubtful after going to hospital for treatment on a shoulder injury that he picked up in training, he is doubtful to start Saturday's game.

For Burnley, they cannot field Jon Flanagan against his parent club and Ashley Barnes has a hamstring injury. New signing Steven Defour is expected to make his debut.

I've put us down for a 3-1 in the work's predictor league and I'm feeling pretty confident after a strong performance against Arsenal despite conceding three.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Five Things We Learned From Liverpool's Opening League Game

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1) Moreno had a mare

When it comes to sticking with a footballer and trying to cling on to the fact that they may have something left to offer it always feels like I'm one of the last fans hanging on. It's no different with Alberto Moreno, there was a time very recently where I was singing his praises as he went through a more settled stage but after Sunday's performance it's very clear that he just isn't cut out to be a top level left back.

He has zero positional awareness and while he occasionally offers something going forward this doesn't come anywhere close to making up for his continuous lapses at the back. It's a real shame because when he first came to the club he looked like he might be moulded into a quality player but that boat has sailed I'm afraid, absolute mare he had.

2) Migs not lost it?

After rumours that Loris Karius would in fact replace Simon Mignolet it looked as though the Belgian wouldn't get another chance to really impress between the sticks. Karius however broke his hand meaning the questionable Mignolet started in goal against Arsenal.

Granted, we conceded three goals but I'm not entirely convinced that Migs could have done much about them, his defence didn't help on several occasions. When he saved Walcott's penalty he proved that he can still be a reliable keeper so it will be interesting to see what happens when Karius returns to fitness.

Who would you prefer in goal this season? Vote here

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3) Coutinho Magic

The magician didn't take long to sprinkle his stardust at the Emirates, the number 10 opened Liverpool's scoring for a brand new Premier League season. Coutinho is a phenomenal player to watch when he's having a good day, on a bad day he can very often go missing but when gifted a free kick within range you always fancy him to do something special.

What a goal it was, a beautiful free kick, perfectly placed high into the top left corner of goal away from the stretch of the great Petr Cech. As if the free kick wasn't enough he then somehow converted a second goal off his shin. I often look at Coutinho and worry that he'll be snatched away from us, I was half expecting to see him leave this season but here's hoping we'll see him in a Liverpool shirt for the foreseeable future!

4) Mane worth the money?

A £30+ million price tag for Mane had several Liverpool fans wincing earlier in the summer but while some questioned the fee, nobody questioned Mane's ability. The youngster is a super quick and talented player offering a fresh option for Liverpool going forward.

For me he had a relatively strong game on the whole, topped off perfectly by his wonderful goal on 63 minutes. On the right hand side of the pitch Mane was strong during his run taking on two Arsenal defenders in the box with ease, his finish was sublime. I am seriously looking forward to seeing him play regularly for the Reds. A great first league game for the Senegalese forward.

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5) I'm 50p down...

I have to confess... A tiny part of me was actually pretty gutted with today's result. I'm still living off my student loans at present until I get my first wage packet from my new job at the end of the month so I figured I'd pop a few bets on.

I had a quid on Mane in a 2-1 which went down the pan, 50p on a 3-3 and 50p on a 4-4 for £100. I won't lie, if Arsenal had of spoiled our tremendous party I would have been slightly pleased with the £100 bonus for more ciders and cocktails haha!

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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Liverpool Versus Wenger

Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal for 20 years... That's a bloody long time in football and during that time it's fair to say we've had several scrapes with the Gunners so in the run up to our opening league fixture on Sunday I thought it would be good to take a look back through the Wenger years.

In the time that Arsene has been in London, Liverpool have had a total of seven managers; Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier, Rafael Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish, Brendan Rodgers and of course Jurgen Klopp. As far as I am aware, Kenny Dalglish is the only one to have voiceiferously told the Frenchman to "piss off" on the touchline. Good old Kenny.

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In the early days under Roy Evans (including his stint with Houllier) Liverpool picked up some strong results against Arsenal namely in the League Cup when they beat Wenger's side 4-2 in the round of 16 thanks to goals from McManaman, Fowler and Berger.

Four seems to be a number that sticks when it comes to games with Arsenal during the Wenger era, on eight occasions one or both sides have netted four goals. Perhaps the most famous incident of four goals was the one involving Andrey Arshavin. He bagged four in a single game against the Reds back in April 2009. Liverpool under manager Rafael Benitez had some tricks of their own though with Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun providing two goals a piece.

Arshavin now plays in the Kazakhstan Premier League...

From the Houllier years who can forget little Michael Owen in the Millennium Stadium. It was the treble season for the Reds and Arsene Wenger certainly wasn't going to stand in the way of Gerard. The FA Cup final was a highlight for Liverpool and remains an important moment from the last couple of decades against the Londoners.

The Rafa Benitez era was an exciting one at Liverpool, forever remembered for that Champions League victory in 2005 but Rafa also came across Arsene Wenger's side in 2008 in his pursuit of more European silverware.

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The first leg in the quarter finals ended well for Arsenal after they collected a 1-1 draw at the Emirates but they had yet to travel to Anfield. A nail-biting game for the Reds at L4 eventually ended in a 4-2 victory. I remember the game well because I was inconsolable when when Adebayor's goal went in at 84 minutes, head in hands, refusing to look at the screen, then my fella was trying to tell me we had a peno but I just thought he was winding me up! Thankfully he wasn't. The Reds went on to get knocked out by Chelsea in the semi-final.

For Brendan Rodgers, perhaps one of his most impressive games as Liverpool boss came against Arsene Wenger on 8th February 2014.

"It was breathtaking." - Brendan Rodgers

Martin Skrtel of all people had found the back of the net after just one minute at Anfield and that really set the tone for a terrible day at the office on Arsene Wenger's part. Nine minutes later Skrtel had scored again. Most of you know of my strange love for Martin Skrtel, I couldn't believe what I was seeing, up out my seat absolutely elated, every time we had the ball we looked like we'd score. I'd never seen such a confident performance against the Gunners. A Daniel Sturridge goal and a brace from Raheem Sterling sealed the 5-1 victory.

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Jurgen Klopp will walk his side out for his second meeting with Arsene Wenger on Sunday and after collecting a 3-3 draw the German will be looking to seal his first win against Arsenal. On their home turf it is always difficult and against the experienced Wenger it could be a tough start for the Reds.

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Monday, 8 August 2016

Season Predictions...

So I started back at work last week in my new graduate adult life. Surviving somehow at the moment with the early starts! As part of my first week one of the lads at work sent round a Predictions League and a Season Predictions sheet. We also have a fantasy football league going so of course I signed up to all three!

I figured it might be fun to share with you my predictions for the season:

Tweet me your own predictions.

Premier League - Manchester City
First of all may I state that I have not predicted Manchester United to win anything as I refuse to do so which as you can see from my next prediction massively let me down at the weekend... Great bitter tactic haha! 

I do actually think Manchester City will have a chance though, they still have a strong team and a top manager coming in. Interested to see how it all pans out.

Community Shield - Leicester

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FA Cup - Liverpool
League Cup - Liverpool
Yes, I have gone a bit mental and said we'll win both the FA Cup and the League Cup but why the hell not? Of course I'd much rather us focus on the league seen as though we're out of Europe and sack the cups off but Klopp had two great cup runs last season and I wanted to make sure there was a good portion of Liverpool in my prediction list.

Golden Boot - Sergio Aguero
Bit of a cop out this one to be honest. I genuinely don't know who will be top scorer, there's several contenders but Sergio Agureo is a relatively reliable choice.

First Premier League Manager to be sacked - Francesco Guadolin
I'm sure I read in the Italian press somewhere that when Francesco Guadolin was announced as Swansea manager he actually thought he was going to be the manager of Watford. The fact that he perhaps doesn't even want to be in Wales coupled with the thought that Swansea may struggle next season has made me go for him.

Premier League Relegation #1 - Hull
Premier League Relegation #2 - Burnley
Premier League Relegation #3 - Bournemouth
I have never successfully predicted all three relegation clubs in my life so this was purely guess work.

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Championship Promotion #1 - Newcastle
Championship Promotion #2 - Wolves
Championship Promotion #3 - Aston Villa
A bit more than guess work for these, I am convinced Rafael Benitez will get Newcastle straight back up. Aston Villa many people appear to disagree with me here but I can't see them remaining in the Championship and as for Wolves, I know a fair bit about them, I thought they would be there or thereabouts this season but after they brought in a billionaire owner and Walter Zenga I had to back them.

Champions League - Bayern Munich
Don't fancy it going to Spain this year so that didn't leave many more options.

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Europa League - Napoli
Sevilla can't win it again... can they?! I've just opted for a strong team in the Champions League that will probably drop down into the competition.

Super Cup - Real Madrid
FIFA Club World Cup - Real Madrid
Real Madrid seemed the easiest option here.

La Liga - Barcelona
Didn't want Real Madrid all over the place.

Bundesliga - Borussia Dortmund
Didn't want to have Bayern Munich winning the Champions League and the league did I?

Serie A - Juventus
Don't want Juve to win it at all, would prefer if Roma or Napoli could improve on a strong season but we all know what Juve are like.

MLS Cup - New England Revolution
I won't lie, I had to google American football teams. I didn't even know who New England Revolution were... apparently it's these guys
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FIFA Ballon d'Or - Lionel Messi
Messi or Ronaldo, Messi or Ronaldo, Messi or Ronaldo........... Messi!

AFCON - Ghana
I know that Ghana have a strong side from watching them in World Cups, I'm just hoping they are still strong!

So as you can see sometimes I've actually been serious and others I've just plucked from thin air but hey, Leicester won the league last season and who the hell seriously predicted that?!

Stay tuned to The Liver Bird later this week for an Arsenal post!


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Please take a look at their website where they also have discounts on at the moment!

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