The Liver Bird  

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Liverpool Batter Arsenal In 4-0 Anfield Win

Liverpool walked away from Anfield on Sunday afternoon with all three points after an emphatic victory over an extremely dire Arsenal side. The Gunners offered absolutely nothing in front of goal leaving Loris Karius with very little to do.

Image via The Guardian (Phil Noble/Reuters)
The lack of goalkeeping requirement was perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Reds as Karius looked nervous on occasion stepping in to the role after months without a game. The bizarre decision to entirely drop Simon Mignolet from the side (not even allowing the Belgian to appear on the bench) left many Liverpool fans scratching their heads before kick off.

Jurgen Klopp explained that Migs was simply being "rested" but I wasn't born yesterday. A goalkeeper doesn't need to be "rested" and certainly not this early in the season. Something has happened, I'm not sure what, but you don't just drop a keeper with no real reason behind it. I have no qualms with Karius making an appearance in goal to give Mignolet some competition either but I don't feel Simon has done anything recently to deserve being replaced, certainly not so suddenly in the run up to a massive game.

As I mentioned though, thankfully, Karius had very little to do. The main focus was very much on Petr Cech's goal as he had to deal with Liverpool's free flowing attack.

The first goal came courtesy of Roberto Firmino, a lovely cross from Joe Gomez into the box allowed the Brazilian to head home after just 17 minutes. It was Sadio Mane though who scored the pick of all four goals when at 40 minutes he whipped home a stunning solo effort.

By this stage the Reds were visibly in control of the match, reeling off 10 minute possession stats as high as 75% to Arsenal's 25% at one stage. Wenger's side really looked in terrible form, they genuinely just didn't seem bothered, there was no fire there, no desire to get back into the game. At 2-0 up in the first half Arsenal still could have easily got themselves on track but the players just didn't seem concerned, add into the mix that for some strange reason Wenger decided not to play his £50+ million signing in Lacazette and as an Arsenal fan you have to be asking several questions.

Liverpool may have got the better of the Gunners twice last season but not for years have I seen the Londoners so lacklustre in this fixture. It was a crying shame as these games are usually some of the most exciting. Arsenal's loss though is of course Liverpool's gain and the Reds started the second half in exactly the same fashion as the first. 

Mo Salah's goal just before the hour mark saw him run half the length of the pitch after possession was stolen. With a cool finish, Liverpool's new signing celebrated wildly in front of a beaming Kop End. 

To top it all off, Daniel Sturridge entered play at 74 minutes and had scored by minute 77. The vision of Salah allowed for a well timed cross which the England forward converted with ease. I always enjoy watching Sturridge find the back of the net as despite his more bit part role at the club of late I still feel he's a top quality player on his day. Injuries aside and with regular football he could still be up there with the best in the Premier League.

It was a superb display from Klopp's team and whilst I still have some huge concerns over the Mignolet/Karius situation, hopefully they will be answered over the coming days. Next up for the Reds is Manchester City and I honestly think we'll beat them n'all. It's the Burnleys and Watfords of this world that Liverpool need to learn to contend with at the moment, not the big boys!

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Saturday, 26 August 2017

Liverpool V Arsenal

Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield on Sunday afternoon as they look to collect another win in the Premier League. The Reds started the season with a draw against Watford but managed to collect all three points against Palace in a 1-0 victory.

Image via mirror.co.uk
On paper, Arsenal should be a difficult side to beat for the Reds but as I mentioned in the Hoffenheim post, Liverpool just seem to perform far better against the bigger, supposedly more threatening sides. Arsenal play in a tactical style that Klopp's side can punish and I fully expect us to find the back of the net on multiple occasions tomorrow. 

Team news for the Reds means they will be without Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne. Trent double A will also be subject to a late fitness test along with Emre Can who has a slight knee issue.

Arsenal have had some good news injury wise as Alexis Sanchez returns while Koscielny also comes back into the side after serving a three match ban. 

The last time the two sides met was in March this year. The game at Anfield ended 3-1 to Liverpool thanks to goals from Firmino, Mane and Wijnaldum. Welbeck scored Arsenal's only goal of the game. 

It feels like the Reds have got the better of the Gunners a lot lately but over the last 10 meetings between the two sides in the league, Liverpool have only won on three occasions. Two wins came last season and how could we forget that famous 5-1 victory in February 2014. I'd bet on Skrtel to score first in that game n'all and he did just one minute in!

Over the same time period, there have been four draws and three wins for Arsenal.

I've predicted a 4-1 win for the Reds in our work's predictor league and although that may seem a little over the top I'm genuinely quite confident for Sunday's match. I'll be betting on my main man Mane too, he's in such great form at the moment.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Thursday, 24 August 2017

Hoffenheim Result, Champions League Draw And The League Cup

So firstly, at 4:15am this morning, or some ungodly hour close to that, Liverpool drew Leicester away in the League Cup. Whilst we should care, none of us really do at the moment because we're all still hyped about the Hoffenheim win. 

The Reds' 4-2 (Agg 6-3) victory over the German side means they have secured their place in Pot 3 of the Champions League draw which will take place by the time I have uploaded this post to blogger (don't worry I'll add commentary at the end). 

Image via The Telegraph

As for last night though? What a game! Liverpool looked at their fluid attacking best with solid performances from the likes of Can, Firmino and Mane. 

The only problem for me, without trying to go on a negative here, is that it's no surprise we played so well at home in the second leg where Hoffenheim simply had to play openly. 

The Reds play perfectly in these sorts of situations, when teams aren't afraid to attack and leave space or when they simply have to go all guns blazing to have any chance to stay in Europe. For me, Liverpool will win those sort of games nine times out of ten this season (which is exactly why I think we'll beat Arsenal). Throw a Burnley in the mix though or a Watford etc and all of a sudden we look lost. 

We have failed to solve this issue in the transfer window entirely though I do feel somebody like Solanke working with Sturridge in games against sides more likely to park the bus could potentially work. I just feel as though we need a Plan B and at the minute we don't seem to have one. 

Last night though, Plan B wasn't required. An early goal just ten minutes in from Can set Liverpool's pace and two more goals from himself and Salah followed within the next ten minutes. Firmino scored the final Liverpool goal just after the hour mark and he deserves a special mention after having such an influence on the pitch. 

Hoffenheim did find the back of the net twice, helped by a brave early substitution from the manager, but the Germans never seriously looked like turning this tie around. 

So, we're in the pot, Pot 3. Pot 2 looks more frightening than Pot 1 and as always there are a few teams you think "yeah I'd take that" then you realise it's about a 12 hour round trip. 

People keep saying we should be worried about the Barcas and the Reals, PSGs and Juves but ask yourself... which one of those lot wants to draw us out of Pot 3? None of them. It works both ways, we're in the hat now and as I've always said many times before, Liverpool are a different beast in Europe. Whoever we draw, game on. 

Above written 7:40am

Below written 6:20pm

Group E

Spartak Moscow
Sevilla
Liverpool
Maribor

Unbelievable draw! It's about bloody time Liverpool had a bit of luck in the group stages, the amount of times we've had to watch other English teams get a relatively straight forward run in, it's nice to finally get a decent look in ourselves!

Sevilla for me are the only real issue in this group, as the Reds found out in the Europa League, the Spanish side are a tough one to crack. While Spartak Moscow offers an interesting trip away, realistically they shouldn't pose a major threat to Liverpool and no offence to Maribor but if we can't secure victory there then what's the point?

Considering some of the groups we could have been dumped in, I can't get over that draw, there was one point when it looked like we could end up with Barca and Juve or Bayern Munich and PSG or Real and Dortmund madness!

I've always loved Francesco Totti...

Roll on kick off ay?! #BackInEurope

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Five Talking Points From Hoffenheim Away

1) Trent double A

What a goal from the youngster and what a superb way to open your score card, by netting your first goal for the club in a Champions League qualifier with a beautiful free kick that also happens to make you the youngest Liverpool goalscorer the competition has seen (both as the European Cup and as the Champions League).


Image via This Is Anfield

I don't think words can justify this, I'm just going to leave the video here, pride of place, available whenever I need it here on the blog:

2) The whole Moreno as a defender thing...

I try my best not to constantly get on at players but I'm really finding it hard just lately in the case of Moreno. There was a time when I used to see a spark of hope for him in defence (minimal to say the least) but there's one thing I've never denied and that is his clear talent and threat in a more forward role. He's a winger. We all know it, Jurgen knows it, even Moreno knows it. So why on earth we continue with this pipe dream that he will suddenly learn how to defend properly is beyond me.

He leaves us so exposed and with an already faltering defence, the gaps he often leaves only makes things ten times worse. I genuinely would prefer Milner there, even though he's not a defender either, he's just better at pretending to be one.

3) Peno could have changed the game

After just 11 minutes Hoffenheim were awarded a penalty after a challenge from Lovren in the box. Thankfully Simon Mignolet managed to save the effort (to be honest it was a pretty poor spot kick) but can you imagine if that had gone in?

Tails would have dropped, the Reds I feel would have struggled to find momentum and Hoffenheim would have used it as a catalyst. The Germans had their moments throughout the game and I reckon with an early goal under their belts anything could have happened. Thank god it didn't.

4) Hoffenheim still a threat

Going into a second leg at Anfield one goal up, knowing that victory secures your place in the Champions League should be more than enough for Liverpool to seal the deal next week but the slim margin offers hope for Hoffenheim.

We have seen first hand the kind of threat they can pose, Mark Uth's finish after he was found by a long ball was stunning and given enough opportunities at Anfield they simply will punish. Liverpool need to be on guard.

5) Nagelsmann suggests something about Liverpool's performance...

Finally if you didn't catch it, the young Hoffenheim boss suggested Liverpool were below par:


“We had the ball in many important spaces. He (Klopp) has to say that and defend his team. He can’t say, ‘Hoffenheim played great and we were shit." - Julian Nagelsmann

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Monday, 14 August 2017

Champions League Qualifier | Hoffenheim v Liverpool

❓: Champions League first play-off round, first leg
📅: Tuesday 15th August 19:45 GMT
📍: Rhein-Neckar Arena, Sinsheim

Who are Hoffenheim? 

The German side hail from the Sinsheim region and up until 2008 were a team struggling in the lower realms of the German football system. Last year they finished 4th in the Bundesliga and they have some solid centre forwards to call upon. 

Manager Julian Nagelsmann got his side through the whole of the 2016/2017 season with just four losses to their name in the league.

Fun fact: Hoffenheim open their home matches by playing Rammstein's "Engel".

Image via Sky Sports

Should Liverpool be concerned?

On the one hand, Liverpool should be very concerned, other than perhaps Nice most would agree that Hoffenheim were the toughest draw for our Champions League qualifier. The German side may be relatively inexperienced when it comes to Europe but they will be hungrier than most to get through and they enter this fixture on the back of a cracking season.

On the other hand Liverpool have an affinity with the Champions League, you could argue that the Reds shouldn't be concerned by any opposition thrown in front of them. After all to do well in Europe you simply have to beat the best. There's also the fact that it's over two legs, with the second one at Anfield, a huge advantage. 

I personally think this is the kind of game that Liverpool will relish, the enormity of the occasion and the big game atmosphere will work to our advantage I feel.

Previous Meetings

None. The Reds have never crossed Hoffenheim's path before however, overall the Reds do have a fantastic record against German sides. Liverpool have only lost on seven occasions to German opposition from a total of 42 fixtures*.

The Reds may not have faced Hoffenheim but Jurgen Klopp as a manager certainly has. He faced the side 19 times as boss of Borussia Dortmund and his record reads: 
W: 8, D: 7, L: 4.

“If we’re only at 95% against Hoffenheim we’ll have big, big problems, and they will knock us out - Jurgen Klopp”

Team

Well the big, although also rather predictable news is that Coutinho is not in the squad that has travelled to Germany. Does he have a bad back? Or is that a load of tosh? Who knows. What we do know is, there are clearly a few more twists and turns in this saga yet.

Also unavailable for manager Jurgen Klopp is Daniel Sturridge who isn't fit enough and is still recovering from a thigh injury. 

Thoughts

It's going to be a tough game away from home for the Reds but I honestly feel that the occasion will bring out the best in them. The defence is clearly an issue for Liverpool and Hoffenheim will try hard to punish but if Klopp can get his attackers to find an early goal it could be a decent outing. The lads will surely want to prove a point after the Watford game and Liverpool only need a draw really to feel confident returning to Anfield.

I'm going for a relatively uneventful 1-1.

*Source:worldfootball.net

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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Set Pieces Still A Nightmare For Reds | Five Things We Learned

Same old problems, same old Liverpool. The 3-3 draw with Watford has only highlighted our pre-existing issues which don't appear to be anywhere near solved. With a defence looking completely lost and a midfield struggling to pass freely it was a frustrating outing a Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon for the Reds.

1) Mo Salah looks a good buy

Image via The Guardian
Despite the many, many negatives from that fixture it has to be said that Salah was one of the positives. He put on a good display in his pre-season matches and has proved against Watford that he can tough it in the Premier League. His clever play to force the penalty was quickly followed by a goal of his own (that Firmino shot wasn't going in so it's a good job he continued his run).

He made a real impact I felt, certainly in the second half and if anything, scoring on your debut, whatever the result is going to work wonders for your confidence. Keep an eye on this lad.

2) The midfield three need to stamp their authority

There were several issues during the match and let's face it the main problem came from the defence but I also feel the midfield three have a lot to answer for. Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum were extremely quiet. Can was more noticeable but mainly due to sloppy passes or rash challenges.

Henderson is obviously not at his sharpest but it's his responsibility to try and pull the strings and hold his side together, I saw minimal command or vision from him on Saturday. As for Gini, to be fair he always seems to be one of those players that goes unnoticed but in this game, certainly in the first half he didn't appear to be adding anything to the team. Definitely room for improvement but it's early doors and these things happen at the start of every season.

3) We still can't defend

Why on god's green earth can't we defend set pieces? Every team gets nervous when the opposition has a corner but nobody gets as nervous as a Liverpool fan at the moment. All a side has to do is put the big men in the mixer and hey presto - goal.

It's shocking, Lovren and Matip aren't terrible defenders but the set up is just all wrong. Moreno for me shouldn't even be in defence either but then I'm not sure Milner would have made that much of a difference. The discussion post match between Jamie Redknapp and Jamie Carragher was an interesting one about van Dijk, would an influential defender like him make everything better? I'm not sure it would answer all the questions but I do feel that a leader like him could have a significant impact.


4) Sadio Mane the real highlight

I got Mane on the back of my shirt this season and I'm so glad I did. For the majority of the match he was the only player on the pitch for Liverpool, the only one looking for and running in to space and the only one capable of finding the net in the manner in which he did.

He's a quality player and for me, he's going to be a vital cog for Liverpool this coming season.

5) We need to sort out this Coutinho saga and spend spend spend

Will he? Won't he? Who knows. The last post on this blog had me convinced he was going nowhere this season, that there was one more left in him but after unfolding events this week it's looking less likely the Brazilian will still be at Anfield this season.

If that's the case and he does really want to go, we need to get things moving. Get top dollar and spend, spend, spend. Clearly we need to strengthen the defence and clearly without Coutinho the attack needs another starlet. I have no idea why we appear to have been so relaxed in this transfer window when apparently we have money to spend but if Coutinho goes we can't hang about any longer. 

Next up for the Reds is a huge game against Hoffenheim.

What were your thoughts on the game? Tweet me: @LFCKirstyLFC

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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Reds Kick Off 17/18 At Watford Away

Welcome back to The Liver Bird for the eighth year of me blogging about the Reds! Let's get stuck straight in with a preview for the opener against Watford shall we?

Coutinho

I can't really type this post without bringing up Couts can I? On Wednesday evening the Reds rejected a £90 million bid from Barcelona for the magician, it's the second time they've come knocking this season, but manager Jurgen Klopp has no plans to let one of his star players go.

"No price at which we are ready to give in. Our goal is to have the best possible team. So we want to keep our guys and add new ones. That is our plan."

I honestly don't think Coutinho is going anywhere this window. I think he knows he can afford to give us another season and if he wants to go to Spain, Barcelona will still be there at the end of it. Liverpool of course can cope without the Brazilian but he'd leave a huge hole. Particularly when we need to turn those dogged draws into wins, he's the man to do it.

New Signings

Let's hope he bloody doesn't but if Coutinho did leave us this window, are our new boys up to scratch? Well Mo Salah may not quite be replacement material but he's shown real promise in pre-season. I for one am very excited to see him perform under Jurgen Klopp in a very attack-minded Liverpool side.

Image via liverpoolfc.com

Solanke who is due to play a smaller role has also set opinions alight after some exciting performances during pre-season as well. The youngster aged just 19 definitely looks like one for the future.

Then we have Andy Robertson, I would be lying if I said I was excited by this move but it's a sensible one from Klopp and I will hold judgement until I get to see him in the Liverpool shirt a few times.

Watford's Signings

Watford have been relatively busy during the window and two of their key signings are Tom Cleverley and Andre Gray. The latter of whom cost just over £18 million having scored ten goals last season, nine of which came in the Premier League.

Watford have also accquired Richarlison from Fluminense. At 20 years old he's seen as a real prospect by some and obviously caught the eye of the Watford manager.

Liverpool Injuries

Liverpool are without Sturridge, Clyne, Coutinho and Lallana for the Watford game. Adam Lallana is out for approximately three months with a thigh injury while Clyne is also searching for fitness having missed pre-season.

Coutinho and Sturridge however are both expected to be available for Liverpool's Champions League qualifier with Hoffenheim next week.

Previous Meetings

The last time the two sides met was in May this year. The Reds scored a single goal via Emre Can to take all three points... don't act like you don't remember that goal... I still drool when I see it now.

Image via Liverpool Echo
The last meeting at Anfield between the two sides was in November 2016, the game ended 6-1 in a fantastic victory for the Reds. Five different goalscorers found the back of the net; Mane, Coutinho, Can, Firmino and Wijnaldum.

In the last six meetings between the two sides in the league, Liverpool have won five with Watford winning the remaining fixture.

Final Word

I cannot wait for the match on Saturday, it feels like it's been a long summer of reading rumours about Keita and batting off Barca and while the transfer window still remains open it will be nice to get stuck in to things and see what Klopp's slightly tweaked team can do.

Firmino in his more direct role with the likes of Salah and Mane behind him in theory should be brilliant to watch, I just hope we can start on a positive. I'm looking forward to another season of blogging and tweeting about the Reds so please drop me a line!

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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Season Predictions 2017/2018

So, just like last year I'm taking part in the work's predictor league, it's great fun and as it turns out I'm actually not too bad at predicting results. My downfall however was my season prediction sheet that you have to submit at the start of the season.

Let's compare actual results with mine shall we?


2016/2017 Actual
Kirsty’s Predictions
Premier League Winners
Chelsea
Manchester City
Community Shield Winners
Manchester United
Leicester City
FA Cup Winners
Arsenal
Liverpool
League Cup Winners
Manchester United
Liverpool
Premier League Golden Boot
Harry Kane
Sergio Aguero
First Premier League Manager to be sacked
Francesco Guidolin
Francesco Guidolin
Premier League Relegation #1
Hull
Hull
Premier League Relegation #2
Sunderland
Burnley
Premier League Relegation #3
Middlesbrough
Bournemouth
Championship Promotion #1
Newcastle United
Newcastle United
Championship Promotion #2
Huddersfield
Aston Villa
Championship Promotion #3
Brighton & Hove Albion
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Champions League Winner
Real Madrid
Bayern Munich
Europa League Winner
Manchester United
Napoli
Super Cup Winners
Real Madrid
Real Madrid
FIFA Club World Cup Winners
Real Madrid
Real Madrid
La Liga Winners
Real Madrid
Barcelona
Bundesliga Winners
Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund
Serie A Winners
Juventus
Juventus
MLS Cup Winners
Seattle Sounders
New England Revolution
FIFA Ballon D’Or Winner
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi

Yeah... that didn't go so well did it? To be fair some answers weren't entirely serious and I've followed that pattern somewhat this season too what with saying we're going to win the Champions League haha! It doesn't hurt to dream.

Premier League Winners - Chelsea. I can't see anyone pipping them this season providing Conte stays put.

Community Shield Winners - Arsenal. I just don't really want Chelsea to win this too haha.

FA Cup Winners - I've said we'll win it, because why the hell not? And who seriously predicts cup winners anyway, it could be anyone.

League Cup Winners - Manchester City, again, I have no idea who will win this cup but thought it would be a safe bet to go with one of the big boys.

Premier League Golden Boot - Romelu Lukaku. Annoyingly, I genuinely think he's going to find the back of the net frequently next season, it hurt to type a United player but it's a win-win situation. He wins it I get extra prediction league points, he doesn't I can lol.

First manager to be sacked - Slaven Bilic. There's a few candidates to choose from but after last season it definitely felt like Bilic was on the ropes, a bad start and he'd be off I reckon.

Premier League Relegation #1 - Huddersfield. I don't think they're strong enough to stay up.
Premier League Relegation #2 - Watford. Looked dodgy last season, got rid of Mazzarri, Silva needs to hit the ground running.
Premier League Relegation #3 - Bournemouth. I don't know what it is about Bournemouth I just seem to doubt them, I put them last season and it didn't work out so we'll see what happens.

Championship Promotion #1 - Wolverhampton Wanderers. In part I kind of have to put these down due to the fella's footballing allegiances however I genuinely think they may have a shot, they've got a new manager in and have been pretty active in the transfer market.
Championship Promotion #2 - Fulham. Fulham always seem to be there or thereabouts, I think this season could prove to be a fruitful one.
Championship Promotion #3 - Norwich. Norwich are a team who are definitely going to be involved come the end of the season.

Image via uefa.com
Champions League Winner - Liverpool. Yes, I have entered pre-season delerium. I hope to god we get through qualifying else I'll never live this down haha!

Europa League Winner - Sevilla. I seemed to go round the houses with this one, I was trying to analyse teams who may drop into the competition from the Champions League, then I was looking at teams who usually perform strongly in the competition... In the end I gave up and went with Sevilla cause they always seem to be winning it.

Super Cup Winners - Real Madrid. You'd be daft not to go with them.

FIFA Club World Cup Winners - Real Madrid. It was them or the mighty Auckland City.

La Liga Winners - Barcelona. Real Madrid can't have everything can they?

Budesliga Winners - Bayern Munich. They're almost a dead cert.

Serie A Winners - Juventus. I really, really wanted to put AC Milan, they've bought extremely well this window and I'm sick of seeing Juve at the top.

MLS Cup Winners - San Jose Earthquakes. I have no idea on this, literally no idea so I went with the earthquakes because I studied natural hazards at Uni and thought their name was cool... #tipster

FIFA Ballon D'Or - Cristiano Ronalo. I went with Messi last year and it was Ronaldo, watch it be Messi now.

Tweet me your own season predictions: @LFCKirstyLFC

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