The Liver Bird  

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Five Talking Points From Moscow

1) One of those days... again? 

How do you have a front line consisting of Salah, Firmino, Mane and Coutinho yet fail to be clinical? It's amazing isn't it, you're sat there thinking "you know what would be perfect here? An in-form Peter Crouch." Ok maybe that's a slight exaggeration but you get the jist, this side needs a true finisher. It's ridiculous and it makes zero sense why we should struggle in front of goal but Liverpool definitely need to work on nailing home a result. 

We were all over Spartak for the majority of the game and some of the chances were agonising to watch when they failed to pay off. Part of me felt as though having Sturridge on the field helped with the more direct opportunities but then even he fluffed a couple of options. 

It's just so frustrating because while this was definitely "one of those days" you can't keep having "those days" and certainly not in the Champions League. 

2) Karius should have got there?

It's probably harsh because it was a decent free kick but he'd done all the hard work, he was practically there yet somehow failed to save the effort. 

Would Migs have saved it? Who knows but I know who I prefer between the sticks at the moment and it's not Loris. 

3) Coutinho delivers 

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Any murmurs of letting him rot in the reserves have all but died out now. Where would we be without him? He had a fabulous game on Tuesday night not only via his link-up play and great goal thanks to an assist from Mane but also when tracking back in defence. 

4) Firmino sub? 

Many on Twitter raised this and I have to agree. What exactly did Firmino do to deserve to play the whole 90 minutes? He'd of been my first sub, to be honest, but for some reason, Klopp decided to take Mane off first. 

Klopp sometimes baffles me with his substitutions not only his choices but also timings. I just don't think he currently uses them to make maximum impact, Sturridge was a strong move but the wrong player was taken off. On another day though Studge would have found the net and we wouldn't even be discussing subs. Football's a funny game eh?

5) Is a draw in Russia enough? 

Prior to kick off and when finding out who was in the group you'd probably say yes but having watched how much pressure we piled on last night? No, I don't think it is good enough, we should have got all three points there. 

It's not the end of the world and by no means does it mean we're down and out but that simply had to be a win last night, to walk away with a point after all that pressure? Proper annoying.

The Reds never like to make it easy though do they? Especially in the Champions League, there's always got to be a bit of drama. 

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Monday, 25 September 2017

Reds Travel To Moscow

After an eventful 3-2 win over Leicester in the league on Saturday, Liverpool travel to Russia on Tuesday evening as they prepare to face Spartak Moscow in the Champions League. 

Despite winning the league last year Spartak haven't started in great fashion with just one win from their last seven matches in all competitions. 

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Liverpool don't have any fresh injury woes for this fixture and for the first time ever, Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino are all available at the same time. Their Russian counterparts are without Luiz Adriano. The manager may also have to rethink his starting XI if captain Denis Glushakov remains out.

The last time the two sides met was in October 2002. Again in the Champions League, the Reds got the better of the Russians over two legs winning 3-1 away and 5-0 at home. 

Michael Owen scored a hat-trick in Russia while Heskey (x2), Cheyrou (remember him!), Hyypia and Diao scored at Anfield. 

The Reds may be struggling defensively at the moment but Spartak have several problems at the back of their own. Including the fact that they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 11 fixtures within this competition. 

It's always a difficult task making a long trip in the Champions League and it will be a daunting atmosphere in Moscow however with a win behind them, the Reds should be on the ascendancy and can hopefully pick up all three points on Tuesday night. 

It is probably a given that Sevilla will collect three against Maribor so for me, while a draw in this fixture wouldn't exactly be a bad result, it's important to try and get the win. Klopp may have several of his attacking stars at his disposal but I think it might be a more experimental starting XI from Klopp on Tuesday. Mane I imagine will definitely feature but I'm not sure all of the remaining three mentioned previously will start.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching! 

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Reds Out Of Carabao Cup

Liverpool were knocked out of the League Cup by Leicester last night despite appearing to control the game in the entire first half. 

The Reds once again came unstuck after creating dangerous plays and chances galore but failing to find the back of the net. There's no denying that some of Liverpool's passing and movement is a joy to watch but what's the point in racking up 600 odd passes if you aren't gonna score? 

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Sometimes I honestly feel in these games we should play a more direct style of football but I suppose in hindsight it's easy to say things like that. On another day we would have scored in that first half and gone on to win. 

Klopp played a mixed side introducing several fresh legs including the likes of Flanno, Robertson, Grujic and Solanke up front. He also kept enough experience in the side to make it look as though the match would play out in our favour during the first half. 

Coutinho and Gini, in particular, were causing Leicester a lot of problems and also took the focus off Robertson allowing him to play in some superb crosses. Frustratingly though Ings who would have loved to be on the end of a few set pieces did not enter play until late in the second half, by then Coutinho had been replaced meaning players like Albrighton could turn their focus back to shutting off Robertson. 

I can't say I'm that arsed that we're out, obviously to be great you wanna be chasing all the cups but if there's one I'd prefer to drop out of it's this one. Leicester deserved the win in the end after fighting it out and scoring an hour into the second half via Okazaki. 

Slimani's beautiful strike rounded off what was sure to be a great evening for Foxes' fans and I wish them the best in the next round. 

Liverpool of course can't quite forget about Leicester yet though cause we've gotta do it all over a-bloody-gain on Saturday... 

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Monday, 18 September 2017

Two Trips To Leicester This Week

The Reds face Leicester twice this week and on both occasions away from home. The first trip on Tuesday night is a League Cup tie with the following fixture in the league on Saturday. 

Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Burnley this weekend once again displayed their defensive frailties and in a cup match when it's all or nothing the Reds will have to be careful at the back.

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The last time the two sides met was in February this year. The Foxes won the game 3-1 thanks to goals from Vardy and Drinkwater. The Reds' previous trip in the league to Leicester also ended in a loss when Vardy once again scored twice. The game ended 2-0. 

In their last six trips to the King Power Liverpool have lost on three occasions. There has been one 0-0 draw and the Reds have won he remaining two. 

With all the chopping, changing and resting of players it definitely seems like Klopp is trying to manage his players this season, with one eye on the cups and especially the Champions League, will his tactics come off in the League Cup?

The manager has confirmed today at least three big changes to the lineup with Danny Ward set to appear in goal on Tuesday night and both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Grujic due to start.

I personally think we'll win the cup game and draw in the league, I can just see it happening. Enjoy the match folks wherever you are watching! Come back to The Liver Bird for a blog post after the cup game, available on Wednesday. 

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

Five Things We Learned From The Sevilla Draw

1 Same old defence

Liverpool just can't seem to get out of this defensive rut, I don't even know what the answer is other than perhaps a complete rethink of tactics and training which seems very rash but the Reds need some kind of defensive intervention. 

Dejan Lovren on Wednesday night should have easily prevented Sevilla's first goal but it's not even just him, the whole back four is a strange and disjointed set up at the moment.

It just doesn't seem to click, even things like solid first time clearances are lacking and the amount of times Liverpool get caught on the second ball? Shocking. Must do better.

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2 The attacking line is mesmerising 

While the defence is something we'd all like to forget about the attacking line is something to be proud of. On some of the counter attacks yesterday, watching the likes of Mane, Firmino and Salah stream forward was mesmerising. Any side facing that coming at them is going to have issues but frustratingly, Liverpool didn't punish enough with their dominance on Wednesday. 

3 Bobby Firmino missed the target

Was it a bad miss or was it unlucky? Probably the latter but I can't be doing with a stuttered start for a peno, you're always asking for trouble when you go down that route, just smash it in!

What made it worse for Bobby is that he knew if he found the back of the net from the spot it's a totally different game. 3-1 up and I think even Liverpool would have managed to protect that. Overall though despite the fact we should have battered them, a draw probably isn't that bad although Spartak and Maribor also drew so things could begin to get interesting. 

4 All is well in the land of Coutinho... for now

There's been some mega hatred from Kopites towards the Brazilian and I totally get it but as I said in the match preview, what benefit is that right now? Where's shouting crap from the stands at a star player gonna get us? Where's leaving him to rot in reserves gonna get us? 

As with many people I'm pissed off at the whole situation but we need to get over it and save it until he does actually leave. While you have a player like Coutinho on your books and while he's still willing to play you need to just push all that nonsense aside and get behind him because whatever we think, he's a cracking player and I can guarantee he will get us out of a few holes this season!

5 Berizzo is a silly sod 

What's he doing? Really? Poor old Joe Gomez (even more so after he got sent off) he's just trying to earn a crust and take his throw ins but nooooo Berizzo is clearly so exasperated with the situation he'd much rather throw the ball away... twice. 

It's just daft and he's probably sat there feeling like a right idiot now. As for Jurgen Klopp on the cameras at the end? Hilarious! "But what have I done?... can you tell me what have I done?" 

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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Liverpool V Sevilla [PREVIEW]

Liverpool enter the Champions League group stages on Wednesday evening for the first time since 2014. The Reds' three year absence has felt like a lifetime to most fans and after a favourable draw in the group, all eyes are on Jurgen Klopp's side to open up our European season in a winning fashion.

Liverpool are no strangers to Sevilla having faced them extremely recently in the 2015/2016 Europa League final. This is however the only time that the two sides have met. Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring on the night but the Reds ended up losing the game 3-1.

Team news for Liverpool means that Philippe Coutinho could feature for the first time since the whole Barcelona saga unfolded. I for one can't be arsed with holding a grudge, I'm perfectly happy for him to feature in the side, frankly it would be a waste not to use such a talent. Hopefully if he does start he can find the back of the net.

Thankfully for the Reds Sadio Mane will also be available, his red card picked up for the challenge on Ederson against City on Saturday does not affect Champions League performances. 

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There have been several rumours in the run up to the group stages that Klopp may consider playing Loris Karius as our Champions League goalkeeper. I have no idea if this is true or not but to be honest I hope it isn't true, I have no real qualms with Karius and I totally understand he needs game time but it's too risky for me to start him in this competition, it means way too much. 

I'd prefer some consistency with Mignolet remaining in goal for the league and Champions League, Migs isn't the best keeper in the world but at the moment I still don't think Karius is any better, he's very nervous and needs some matches under his belt, for me he should be playing in the cups to build up as a real heavy challenge to Migs. 

For Sevilla, they are unable to call upon Geis and Nolito while a doubt hangs over the fitness of their goalkeeper: David Soria.

The Spanish club are entering their fifth Champions League campaign but they have never got past the round of 16. Both clubs also entered the competition via a play-off with Sevilla beating Basaksehir 4-3. Realistically, Sevilla are the main threat in the group for Liverpool so it will be interesting to see how strong Berizzo's side are at Anfield.

I think we'll be off to a winning start tomorrow, the excitement levels are going to be extremely high with an atmosphere to match as Klopp leads his team out for another hopefully memorable Champions League campaign under the Anfield floodlights. 

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Saturday, 9 September 2017

Mané, Sané... Absolutely Barmé

What the hell just happened? I genuinely felt confident going into this match and while a loss wouldn't have been such a surprise, a 5-0 loss definitely is. Liverpool's chances against Manchester City capitulated after the sending off of Sadio Mané at 37 minutes.

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There's no denying that Ederson came off very badly in that challenge but it was a 50/50, both players were going for the ball, the goalkeeper bravely so, and unfortunately Mané happened to clatter into his face. Mané is not a malicious player and it's clear his eyes were on the ball but he was always running a risk with his studs that high. It's a difficult decision for me, I can totally see why he was sent off but I honestly think if that was between two outfield players he'd of escaped with a yellow.

Prior to the sending off, the Reds were playing really well. City were leaving several gaps at the back, mainly thanks to Otamendi, and Liverpool looked like they were on course for an equaliser after Sergio Aguero opened up the scoring. The red card changed everything though, accompanied by a long delay as Ederson was seen to, any momentum that Klopp's side had was completely lost.

It wasn't long before the home side found the back of the net again this time via Jesus. The Reds were praying for the delayed half time whistle, it felt unlikely a route back into the match existed but Klopp made the right decision I think by making an instant substitution in the second half.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain entered play replacing Mo Salah. I'd called for the introduction of Ox on Twitter at half time but to be honest I thought he'd be swapped for Gini, however it seemed like a good choice to introduce fresh legs. As it turned out, Oxlade would get minimal chances to add influence to his first Liverpool fixture but he had a few moments for example a neat ball over the top that almost set Firmino up.

James Milner and Dominic Solanke also eventually entered play for the Reds in the second half but it was already clear by this stage that there was no way back for Liverpool. Manchester City were very much in control and another goal from Jesus in the second half was soon added to by the talented Leroy Sané.

The German's first effort went to Simon Mignolet's right hand side but it was Sané's second goal that really put the cherry on top of the Sky Blues' outing. A free kick style effort soared into the back of the net, only adding to Jurgen Klopp's embarrassment.

It was a crazy game, one we appeared to be completely out of only 40 odd minutes in, which was a strange feeling. Liverpool have often gone down 2-0 in a game, maybe not with ten men, but they've always fought to remain in contention, it felt a bit like some of the lads had given up on Saturday. It's hard to pull yourself back up after a key player leaves the field, I get that, but it's your responsibility to then ensure that the game doesn't turn into a nightmare.

When you really boil down to it, did Liverpool really make the most of their chances? Salah in particular had a few occasions where if a different decision was made he could have notched up an assist to a tap in. 

This is definitely a match we need to just completely write off and forget about. It's early in the season and I still feel if that sending off didn't occur we'd have put up a good fight at the Etihad.

Absolutely Barmé.

Next up for the Reds is Sevilla in the Champions League group stages.

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Friday, 8 September 2017

Manchester City V Liverpool [PREVIEW]

Liverpool make the short trip to Manchester on Saturday afternoon as they look to get the better of Pep Guardiola's side. The Reds picked up a massive victory over Arsenal prior to the international break but will the time away from the league affect progress?

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The big news for Liverpool this weekend is of course the return of Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian has been back in training but earlier today (I completely missed this news as you'll see from Twitter haha) Klopp announced that Couts would not be in the team for tomorrow's clash. 

It remains to be seen how the whole saga will pan out but to be honest I think it's in everyone's interest to just put it behind us. Coutinho's too good to leave to rot on the bench or in reserves and if he goes next year then so be it, let's squeeze some goals out of him first.

Other team news for the Reds means Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could get his first minutes clocked up in a Liverpool shirt on Saturday. Nathaniel Clyne remains out with a long term injury and Adam Lallana is also unavailable. 

For City, Vincent Kompany who has a calf issue will not make the game and also somewhat ironically, Raheem Sterling is suspended for this one. Karma.

The last time the two sides met was in March this year. The gamed ended 1-1 with James Milner converting from the spot for the Reds. Liverpool have put in some strong performances against City in recent years but this tie has still been a tough fixture at the Etihad. The Manchester side have won three out of the last six fixtures on their home turf in the league.

This clash has also resulted in masses of goals of late. In fact, since December 2013 a total of 26 goals have been scored in this fixture in the league.

"Every time I play Jurgen's teams I learn a lot. Top manager, top club, top players. It will be a nice game tomorrow." - Pep Guardiola

I think we're gonna win tomorrow, after the victory over Arsenal and the sheer intensity in our attack, I just feel like we have enough ammo to get the better of City. Liverpool always play better against the bigger sides and whilst playing City away from home is never going to be an easy fixture I still think the Reds will rise to the occasion.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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