The Liver Bird  

Saturday, 29 April 2017

MATCH PREVIEW: Watford V Liverpool

Liverpool travel to Watford on Bank Holiday Monday as they aim to pick up three points and continue their quest for Champions League football. The last time the Reds faced Watford they scored six, will it be another confident victory away from home?

Liverpool's new shirt was released this week (Image via liverpoolfc.com)
Injuries for Liverpool mean they are unable to call upon Mane, Henderson and Klavan while doubts also hang over the fitness of Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana. The latter of the two is rumoured to be close to full health but it is not known at the time of writing whether he will make the cut.

For Watford, they are likely to be without Kaboul who has a hamstring injury. Zarate and Pereyra are also unavailable.

The Reds have to wait until Monday evening for this fixture meaning Manchester City could be on 68 points and Manchester United on 67 points (depending on their own results on Sunday) by the time they kick off. Liverpool currently sit in third on 66 points so a win would take them up to 69 points, once again giving them some air.

The league this season has been a hard one to explain on Liverpool's part, in some instances we've done remarkably well. Our record against the big sides is unquestionable but on far too many occasions we've dropped points against lesser opposition. 

Watford strike me as a team that could cause Liverpool issues on Monday. Mazzarri's side have won three out of their last five Premier League fixtures however, two of these victories have come against sides in the bottom three. Despite this, Watford are a hard team to break down, a tenacious side that could frustrate Liverpool if they haven't found the back of the net early on.

Nevertheless, Liverpool know exactly what is required from them on Monday, they have also had longer to prepare than most sides and so anything less than three points is quite frankly unacceptable. Especially after the disaster against Crystal Palace.

The last time the two sides met at Vicarage Road was in December 2015, the Reds lost 3-0 on that occasion thanks to an early goal from Ake and a brace from Ighalo.

It really is getting to crunch time now in the league and I can't deny that I'm starting to feel extremely nervous. Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 16 April 2017

Firmino Goal Seals Another Three Points

Without getting too tied down in football cliches it certainly was a scrappy game at The Hawthorns for Liverpool on Sunday afternoon. The Reds walked away with all three points thanks to a single goal from Roberto Firmino but it wasn't exactly plain sailing.

Image via thisisanfield.com
West Brom are notoriously hard to break down, Tony Pulis' sides pride themselves on defence and it's no surprise that this is the first time in Premier League history that the Reds have picked up a win away from home against a Pulis team.

Firmino's goal came right at the end of a dire first half. The Reds had topped the possession stats but with little to show in front of the net. It was ironic then when the Reds found their chance from a set piece. A free kick flicked into the box was knocked on by the tiny Lucas Leiva to Firmino who headed home past Ben Foster. For set piece specialists the Baggies looked rather deflated after conceding on the stroke of half time but they weren't out of the game.

The second half proved difficult for Jurgen Klopp's side as they looked to maintain their lead. A chance went begging after James Milner fluffed what should have been a simple effort over the bar. At the Liverpool end, Simon Mignolet made a brilliant save with his legs to deny Matt Phillips a West Brom equaliser. 

Mignolet was also called into action in quick succession in the dying minutes of the game, punching the ball to safety on two or three occasions whilst under severe pressure. Watching on it felt like it was only a matter of time before the Baggies punished with a header of their own but the goal never came.

Even when Ben Foster hilariously fancied himself as a bit of a forward, Liverpool still defended to the hilt. Annoyingly, Alberto Moreno was unable to convert after stealing possession whilst Foster was still up top. The defender had a completely open goal and two Liverpool players to the right of him but he went it alone and missed the target.

The match as a whole was pretty darn boring, especially for any neutrals watching but at least the whole Ben Foster situation added a bit of excitement. What was he thinking? I mean, fair enough come up for the corner but then he just seemed to think, sack it, I'm gonna play up front. Fair play haha.

After collecting six points from two away fixtures at The Britannia and The Hawthorns, the Reds are rightly feeling pretty chuffed at the moment. These are exactly the kind of games that have thrown Liverpool this season but Klopp has managed to instruct his side to fight and gain victory in these tough fixtures.

Frustratingly, Manchester United beat Chelsea later in the afternoon meaning the Reds can't quite stop looking over their shoulders just yet but with a favourable run in to the end of the season and momentum on their side, you would hope Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool will be taking a place in the top four.

Next up for the Reds is Crystal Palace at Anfield on April 23rd.

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Saturday, 15 April 2017

MATCH PREVIEW: West Brom V Liverpool

Liverpool travel to the West Midlands on Easter Sunday as they prepare to face Tony Pulis' West Brom. The Baggies come in to this game on the back of two defeats compared to Liverpool's six match unbeaten run. Pulis' side however are certainly one to contend with and the Reds may struggle with West Brom's style.

Image via The Independent
Injuries for Liverpool mean they are unable to call upon Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson. Jurgen Klopp is hoping the latter two players will return to the squad before the end of April. 

For West Brom, manager Tony Pulis has a full strength squad to choose from aside from a mystery couple of players who are apparently nursing minor knocks.

The last time the two sides met was in October last year. Both Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino were on the scoresheet for a 2-1 Liverpool win that day. The Brazilian pairing have proved vital for the Reds so far this season and it is expected both with start on Sunday after only making the bench and being called upon in the second half against Stoke.

Prior to that win in October, the Reds have struggled to pick up three points against the Baggies in recent meetings. A 1-1 draw in May 2016 was preceded by a 2-2 draw in December 2015. The last time West Brom picked up a win against Liverpool at The Hawthorns was in August 2012. Daniel Agger was sent off during that 3-0 loss for the Reds. The Baggies however have beaten Liverpool more recently, collecting a 2-0 win in February 2013.

At the time of writing, the Reds are currently third in the league on 63 points while West Brom are in 8th. Sides around the Reds still have some games in hand so it's important for Liverpool to pick up all three points on Sunday and not falter against what could be difficult opposition.

Jurgen Klopp has struggled all season against sides like West Brom and Liverpool's record as a whole against teams managed by Tony Pulis isn't exactly brilliant. I fully expect the Baggies to find the back of the net on Sunday, probably via a set piece, a headed goal. The Reds just can't seem to deal with that kind of attack at the moment, whilst they have looked more organised of late it only seems to take a second for everything to go to pot.

With the likes of Mane and Lallana missing also, Liverpool may be lacking in attack. It will be interesting to see whether Daniel Sturridge is utilised on Sunday as he will create a different sort of threat. Whatever the starting XI, I feel as though an early goal is required if Liverpool are to go on and win. My heart says 2-1 to us but my head says a score draw.

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool currently have 12 points more than they did at the same stage last season.
  • West Brom have scored 14 goals from corners so far this season.
  • The Reds have collected 18 points from losing situations this season.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Cherry On The Cake?

Liverpool welcome Bournemouth to Anfield on Wednesday evening but could this be the cherry on top of the cake after a very good week for the Reds?

The big sides around Jurgen Klopp's all dropped points at the weekend aside from Tottenham and last night Manchester United could only muster a draw in the dying moments against Everton. 

Image via skysports.com
Taking note that some of the teams have games in hand that still leaves Liverpool in a very good position for the top four race. The Reds are currently in third on 59 points. A win against Bournemouth would put them on 62. 

The last time the two sides met was in December 2016. I remember the result well, not because I'd watched the match but because I'd been travelling for close to 24 hours the day before and had woken in a daze in a hotel in the mountains in Whistler thinking oh I best see how much we beat Bournemouth by... 4-3?! What the actual?! 

Unbelievable, I was pissed off but it wasn't even like I knew what had happened the only information I had at that point was scoreline and goalscorers. A day to forget for Jurgen Klopp. 

The Cherries have only visited Anfield on four occasions in their history. Twice in the FA Cup, once in the League Cup and once in the league. In the FA Cup, weirdly both fixtures ended 4-1 to the Reds. Their only game on L4 turf in the league ended 1-0 to Liverpool thanks to a goal from Christian Benteke. 

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are without Sadio Mane as we all still await news from his scan. For Bournemouth their main issue is the missing Andrew Surman who is expected to be replaced by Jack Wilshere. 

Stat Sandwich
  • Liverpool's last six defeats have all come against sides in the bottom half of the table. 
  • The Cherries have not won any of their last five away games in the league. 
  • The Reds have lost just one of their last 23 league matches at Anfield.
Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching! 

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Sunday, 2 April 2017

Five Things We Learned From The Merseyside Derby

1.The Reds still have it

The 3-1 win over Everton on Saturday afternoon showed that the Reds haven't lost it. When push comes to shove Liverpool have one of the most exciting attacks in the Premier League and while there have been some lacklustre performances of late against smaller sides, this victory highlighted all the positives.

Image via Peter Powell/EPA (The Guardian)
As a Derby it had everything you would expect: goals, crunching tackles and heated moments from players, managers and fans. A cracking performance from Jurgen Klopp's side has put them safely in the mix for the top four. 

2.Anybody seen Lukaku?

Genuinely, did he even do anything? For a top goalscorer who believes he deserves a better deal than Goodison Park he's going to have to prove he can perform against top opposition to convince everyone. 

He went completely missing on Saturday, utterly silenced by a combination of Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and the tenacious Lucas Leiva. 

3.Great goals 

The three goals from Mane, Coutinho and Origi were all fantastic. An almost solo effort from Sadio started by his own movement and ending with a strike through the legs of a blue shirted player gave Liverpool the lead. Perhaps an element of poor positioning from the keeper but I still feel it was a good goal. 

Coutinho's was just the typical go to Philippe goal. His pace and skill flummoxed the Everton defence creating enough space for him to swoop his shot into the back of the net. Classic Couts. 

Finally there was Divock. Only introduced due to an injury to Sadio Mane, the Belgian didn't waste any time stamping his mark on the game and on yet another Merseyside Derby. It was a wonderful strike to cement Liverpool's three points. 

4.Lucas proving his worth 

I've said it numerous times on this blog but I bloody love Lucas. He may have his faults and he may not be quite the player he once was but Saturday's game once again proved he is a reliable old stalwart that is fully capable of having a huge impact on what is essentially one of the biggest games of the season for the Reds. 

Lucas has no trouble dealing with players like Lukaku and the heated nature of a Derby along with its crunching tackles and mind games plays right into the hands of the Brazilian. If there's anyone who knows how to wind the opposition up and play right on the wire when it comes to putting in a challenge, it's him. 

5..Who the hell is Jan Kluitenberg?

Finally, who's is joker then ay? Absolutely horrified by Klopp having a chat with the fourth official he took it upon himself to jump up in the dugout and gesture to Jurgen Klopp to calm down. 

Clearly worried Ronald Koeman can't fight his own battles he simply had to step in. What a div. Klopp wasn't arsed.

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