The Liver Bird  

Monday, 22 May 2017

Reds Back In Europe

Oh Gini Wijnaldum, how much do I love you? I was on the edge of a football breakdown at 45 minutes so thank god he stepped up with that cracking goal in the 46th!

Image via The Guardian
That first half was agonising on Sunday and while you kind of expect that Liverpool these days need time to build themselves up into a game, time is something we didn't really have this weekend. Not when Manchester City are romping home and a Arsenal are somehow still ahead despite having a man sent off!

Thankfully, none of that mattered as in the end Liverpool did find their stride and it was plain sailing from there. The Reds are back in Europe and deservedly so I think. 

We've had our ups and downs this season but overall I feel we've had a respectable campaign. Our record against teams in the traditional top four for example was nothing short of phenomenal. Our pitfall of course was against the smaller teams, teams who were extremely hard to break down, we just didn't appear to have a Plan B. When push came to shove though and things got tight during the final run in, it was Jurgen Klopp's men who held their nerve.

So what happens now?

Well, Liverpool are seeded for the Champions League knock out stages which means we will avoid teams like Sevilla and Napoli. We will find out who we face in the two legged play off on August 4th. 

Assuming we don't mess it all up, I cannot wait for the group stages that follow and for legendary European nights to return to the glorious Anfield!

Have a great summer folks! Stay tuned to The Liver Bird where a season round up will appear and some news/opinion posts prior to the new season. As always, thank you so much for reading and sharing. This little old blog is a real passion of mine and it would be nothing without you! After starting full time work and finishing Uni last year I can't deny it's been more difficult to juggle blogging with everything else going on but I still love writing about Liverpool Football Club so roll on 17/18! #YNWA 

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Saturday, 20 May 2017

All We Have To Do Is Beat Boro

Granted, being a Liverpool fan isn't the toughest of tasks, we've had our fair share of glory over the years but even when that glory has arrived, it's never been an easy process has it?!

If the Reds had beaten Southampton earlier this month or managed to beat Bournemouth in April or if they didn't lose to Hull at home in February! Things could have been so different. But they aren't, so here we are on the final day of the season feeling massively nervous about a game that on paper should be a victory for Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool Champions League
Image via The Liverpool Echo
There are just three points separating Manchester City in third from Arsenal in fifth meaning a multitude of outcomes could happen on Sunday. City just need to avoid defeat to stay in the Champions League places. Similarly, if Liverpool win their European dreams are alive, a draw could be enough but it's a dangerous line to be treading with Arsenal right behind. The Gunners are very much reliant on results around them to make it into the top four on the final day. 

Of the three fixtures Liverpool have the most favourable facing already relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield. Boro have won just one game out of their last 10 in the league but did manage to pick up a draw against Manchester City. Arsenal welcome Everton to the Emirates but even with a win the Toffees cannot move any higher in the table. Finally, City travel to Watford who have announced this week that Walter Mazzarri will be leaving the club, will the Italian create a last hurrah?

On top of all of this, there is a scenario where two teams could finish the day on exactly the same points and exactly the same goal difference. I must admit, before this week I just presumed that in a case such as this it would just go down to head to head results but apparently not. Apparently we would have to take part in a play off. A play off could occur to determine third place and also fourth place.

So what's our previous with Boro?

The Reds last faced the Teesiders in December last year, it was a confident win for Liverpool who scored three goals thanks to a brace from Adam Lallana and an effort from Divock Origi.

In the last 10 meetings between the two sides there have been four draws, five wins for Liverpool and just the one victory for Boro. That win came in 2009 when Xabi Alonso scored an own goal.

Liverpool have lost just one from their last ten matches in the league, but no matter what the stats say the Reds always seem capable of slipping up. The Reds have done fantastically well this season, it's Klopp's first full one and while there have certainly been some low moments to finish off in the Champions League would be absolutely perfect. 

A place in Europe would allow Liverpool to target the calibre of player they deserve, it would provide Klopp with a further bargaining chip and hopefully we can move on from there.

All we have to do is beat Boro...

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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Five Things We Learned At London Stadium

1) Playing two strikers can actually work

I've been saying for months now, Liverpool should not be afraid to field two strikers. For me, the whole season we have faced sides such as West Ham and failed to break them down with our Plan A. I love Jurgen Klopp but I think most of us would agree that he can be a bit stubborn at times. On far too may occasions this season Klopp has decided for whatever reason to field the same tactics and an extremely similar team against sides who are determined to make things difficult for us.

Image via Liverpool Echo
Teams like West Ham all season have been more than happy to sit back and allow Liverpool to keep possession, fail to score due to a lack of ideas and a lack of directness and then simply hit us on the break.

In my opinion, having a true striker like Daniel Sturridge on, even better in a front two gives us a much greater chance of breaking down this kind of opposition. Yes it took a significant proportion of the game to take effect on Sunday but it is not a coincidence that game ended 4-0 with both strikers on the score sheet and a brace from Philippe Coutinho.

Playing two strikers not only offers the side more options in the box it also creates a totally different issue for the opposition defence, while West Ham's centre backs are busy with eyes on Sturridge and Origi it gives players like Coutinho the freedom and space they need to really punish.

It's a bit late in the day now but I can't help but feel that if we'd of at least tried this set up, even for half an hour during some of the games we've struggled in, things could be so different right now.

2) Sprinkle of luck

It's not often Liverpool get a bit of luck, it certainly doesn't feel like we have this season but the Reds had two dashes of it on Sunday. First of all when Ayew missed an absolute sitter, he literally just had to tap it into an open net from about a metre out but some how failed to find goal.

Secondly, Liverpool could have found themselves facing up to a penalty after a potential hand ball in the box from Wijnaldum. Gini himself looked guilty as hell as he turned to the referee to check the decision, thankfully for us the whistle did not go.

3) Daniel Sturridge is back

Sturridge has come under a lot of stick recently from some sections of the Liverpool fan base and I personally have never been able to understand this. Yes he is very injury prone but on his day Daniel Sturridge is still one of the best strikers in the league.

Off the pitch he is a lovely guy and it's clear he just wants to strive to do his best for our football club. I was so happy to see him actually start on Sunday and if I wasn't so skint this month, I would have had money on him to find the net haha. His goal set up by a killer pass from Coutinho was brilliant. The striker timed his run perfectly to remain onside and was calm as ever as he took the ball around the keeper and finished.

I'm not sure what the future holds for Sturridge but it seems like he wants to fight for his place and I for one would still love to have him at Anfield.

4) Coutinho at his best

It was no surprise Coutinho was handed man of the match after a brilliant assist and two goals of his own. As mentioned previously, Coutinho is at his best when he has that bit of freedom to work his magic. Playing strikers today in my opinion is what allowed Coutinho to shine and he did not disappoint with two great goals.

5) The Reds can grind it out

Finally, Liverpool showed that they can grind it out when they need to if they really work at it. It hasn't happened on many occasions this season but the Reds proved at the London Stadium that they can stick it out. For the majority of the first half the Reds looked completely out of it but lifted by the Daniel Sturridge goal late in the first half and boosted by regrouping, it was clear they meant business in the second 45.

A ruthless start to the second half of the match left West Ham pretty much dumbfounded and with a second goal under their belt at 57 minutes the Reds went from strength to strength.

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I don't know about you but I was really nervous for this match and I have now screamed myself hoarse yelling at four goals, in particular at Sturridge's opener. All Liverpool have to do now is beat Boro at Anfield, surely to god we can do that?! One more game.

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Emre Can, What A Hero

Liverpool took a huge three points from Watford on Bank Holiday Monday thanks to a wonder strike from Emre Can. The German international performed some insane acrobatics to reach Lucas Leiva's cross and scissor kick home the Reds' only goal of the night. 

As the race for the top four continues to be too close to call, Jurgen Klopp simply had to steer his side to victory against Watford.  

The plan didn't start very well though after Philippe Coutinho was forced to leave the field early on. Replaced by Adam Lallana to cheers from the travelling Kop it was still a real concern as Lallana himself had only just returned to fitness. 

Lallana however looked completely match fit and had an instant impact on the game including an awesome volley in the first half which smashed out off the bar. Most fans thought that would be the only stroke of magic for the evening but Emre Can had other plans. 

I tried to explain that goal in the intro but I don't think words do it justice. Just watch it. 


The second half became a bit more nervy for the Reds as Mazzarri's side had to come out and attack. Watford began to pile forward but Liverpool dealt with any danger. Simon Mignolet must also be praised for some strong decisions and a fingertip save which kept his side in the game. 

In the dying minutes of the match Daniel Sturridge was given a run out. I'm desperate to see Danny score again and pull out that famous dance, he was so close to doing so on Monday night but a great save from Gomes denied him. 

It always felt in the second half that Liverpool might need another goal to fully secure those vital three points and that theory was nearly proved right in the final minute of the game when Prodl also smashed a shot off the bar. 

It was truly a heart in mouth moment but thankfully the Reds hung on. Manchester United are Liverpool's main concern now for the top four but Mourinho's side have an extremely tough run in on the fixture list. On paper, Liverpool's games are easier but as we have found out this season, that doesn't mean it's going to be straight forward... 

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