The Liver Bird  

Friday, 31 August 2018

PREVIEW: Leicester V Liverpool

Liverpool face Leicester in a 12:30 kick off on Saturday in what will be Klopp's fourth match of the season. A duo of draws on Thursday evening allowed the Reds to find out who was in their Champions League group and who they would face in the League Cup. Both results meant that Liverpool's fixture list in September and October has suddenly got a lot busier.

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And so, it would be useful for the Reds to start September with a win. Leicester have lost just one of their opening games, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester United at the start of the season. The foxes are currently 7th in the table on six points, three points behind the Reds who remain top of the table.

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are still without defender Dejan Lovren who remains out with a pelvic issue. Jamie Vardy sits this one out as he serves a three match ban and Matty James is unavailable due to an Achilles injury.

The last time the two sides met was in December last year at Anfield. The Reds went down after just three minutes when Vardy found the back of the net but Mo Salah scored a brace in the second half to seal the victory.

Our last trip to the King Power Stadium produced another win for the Reds. This time a 3-2 win with Henderson, Coutinho and Salah on the score sheet. In their last five games away to Leicester, the Reds have picked up one draw, two wins and two losses.

Stat Sandwich

  • If Liverpool win on Saturday, it will be the first time they've opened the season with four wins in a row since 1990.
  • The Foxes have lost their last 10 matches in the league against sides that started the day at the top of the table.
  • The Reds have only faced 19 attempts on goal so far this season.
I think it could be a tricky one tomorrow but I still think Klopp will walk away with a win. Leicester are a decent side and Liverpool are still building up to their full pelt, for that reason I'll be popping some money on 2-1.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Thursday, 30 August 2018


Liverpool have just learned their fate in this season's UEFA Champions League as the Reds were drawn from Pot 3 into Group C. The draw, as always, has produced some tasty ties and Jurgen Klopp's team have been left with a strong group of teams.

Headed up by PSG, Group C is completed by Napoli, Red Star Belgrade and of course Liverpool.

Image via Sky Sports

It's a tough group, there's no hiding from that but the majority of groups were filled with tricky opposition. I personally think we'll be ok. Those three sides are going to be bricking it as much as we may be. The prospect of Anfield is a frightening one for any visiting club whatever your calibre in Europe.

I am confident that the Reds can pick up maximum points at L4 but the trip to PSG and more so actually Napoli concern me slightly. Napoli have always been a very good side and to add to that they now have Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, a manager who I very much admire.

We all know what PSG have to offer but I have to admit I'm not up to speed with Red Star Belgrade. A historic side for sure and former winners of the European Cup, but I'm not sure what their team is like at present so for me they are a bit of an unknown entity and could pose a threat.

Jurgen Klopp, however, will be all over these teams now, preparing his side for the first match and getting the boys back into the mindset that got them all the way to the final last season. 

With the League Cup draw also later tonight and Leicester to face at the weekend, the season is well and truly back in swing for the Reds.

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Saturday, 25 August 2018

3 Games, 3 Clean Sheets, 3 Wins: Five Things We Learned

1) We can win ugly

For me, the main thing we should take away from today's victory over Brighton is the fact that Liverpool are now a team that can "win ugly". It's a phrase that's been thrown around regularly for teams such as Manchester United or Chelsea, teams who are always in the mix at the top of the table and seem to have that annoying ability to see out a result despite playing terribly.

I wouldn't go as far to say Liverpool were terrible on Saturday, far from it, but the Reds were definitely below par. For me though, instead of being a negative, this is actually extremely encouraging. Similar to the Palace result, the Reds were able to hold on to a slim lead and convert it into an all-important three points. 

Brighton were always going to be a difficult side to play against because the Reds have always struggled under Klopp against organised teams. This season however, Klopp seems to have found the key to unlock the points in these tight situations and I for one take that as a massive, massive positive.

2) Salah's slow start?

Some on social media, would you believe it, have been suggesting that Salah is having a slow start or that he doesn't quite look himself. I think some people are just getting very nervous that he won't be able to live up to the previous season but people need to calm the hell down.

Salah netted again today and while some of his shots and passes were slightly questionable, on the whole, he has already had a huge impact on the first three games of the season. Let's not forget that he also started slowly in his first season. I'm not worried.

3) Alisson has the skills

Alisson made a sublime save late on to ensure the Reds secured all three points. As mentioned in a previous post one of my key phrases this season is "strikers win you matches, goalkeepers win you titles" and I truly hope that the introduction of Alisson can help us meet that mantra.

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However, he does seem to like to take on outfield players haha! Both sides of this were displayed against Brighton, on the one hand, the piece of skill chipping the ball to remove the danger from the striker outside his box was mesmerising but on the other hand, coming out to tackle a player outside of the box with your feet and completely missing? Not so great haha.

It reminds me a bit of Pepe Reina, I still laugh my head off now whenever I see the infamous Robben clip. Importantly though, this kind of behaviour from a goalkeeper only happens if the shot-stopper is confident and Alisson simply oozes confidence. I just think he may need to tone down his out of the box antics.

4) Clean sheets are no longer a pipe dream

On the back of another solid defensive performance and thanks to a great save, Liverpool have yet another clean sheet, their third of the season. Clean sheets used to be something Kopites could only dream of, we'd still win a lot of matches but we'd win by scoring more. A lot of 2-1s or 3-2s etc and that's fine but again, if you want to be serious about contending for a title, clean sheets can make all the difference.

The partnership of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez worked brilliantly again today against Brighton.

5) Gerrard's influence remains?

Steven Gerrard may currently be managing Rangers but his influence and style can still be seen around Anfield. Trent Alexander-Arnold made me double take this afternoon when the youngster performed a pin perfect long range pass diagonally across the field.

It was stunning, very Gerrard-esque. He was also unlucky with a free-kick earlier in the game as it smashed off the bar. 

I'm sure Steven would be proud.

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Friday, 24 August 2018

PREVIEW: Liverpool V Brighton & Hove Albion

Liverpool welcome Brighton to Anfield on Saturday afternoon as the Reds look to continue their winning start in the Premier League. Crystal Palace created a bit of a test for Jurgen Klopp's side on Monday night but back at Anfield many are hoping the Reds might be able to make the most of their effective attack.

Image via The Express
Injuries for Liverpool mean they are still unable to call upon Dejan Lovren. For Brighton, they are potentially going to be without Lewis Dunk who picked up an injury in Brighton's win over Manchester United. 

The last time the two sides met was in May this year. Liverpool put four past Brighton at Anfield with goals from Salah, Lovren, Solanke and Robertson. The Reds also put several goals in the Brighton net during their last trip to the Amex. In December 2017 the game ended 5-1, Firmino scored a brace that day.

It's very early days but Liverpool fans all over are already daring to think about the title. Even the neutrals are starting to say that the Reds are the only side realistically that might be able to stay the pace with the immense Manchester City.

If Liverpool are going to do just that then they need to keep their momentum. Brighton have proved they are no mugs not only last season but also last week after brushing aside Manchester United. United look a shadow of their former selves but still, it's a tough task to beat a Mourinho team and Brighton will surely be on a high coming to Anfield.

I would love to see Naby Keita score on Saturday, he's looked extremely lively in the first couple of matches and his efforts will hopefully at some stage be rewarded with his name on the scoresheet.

Salah assisted against Palace but people will start shouting goal drought if he doesn't find a second soon haha!

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have conceded on just one occasion in their last five league games.
  • Brighton have been to Anfield on nine occasions in the league winning just once in 1982.
  • Roberto Firmino has scored once in his last nine appearances in the league.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Tuesday, 21 August 2018

REPORT: Palace 0 Liverpool 2

Liverpool collected an important victory over Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace on Monday evening with James Milner and Sadio Mane on the scoresheet. The Reds needed to keep their momentum going after a solid win from Manchester City at the weekend and Jurgen Klopp’s side did just that.

Image via The Mirror
In seasons gone by, this is exactly the sort of game that Liverpool would have failed to see out. Palace away from home was always going to be a tricky fixture but the Reds did very well to maintain their composure and continue a consistent run of attacks.

Palace’s main threat Zaha got a few chances to try and punish the Liverpool defence but on the whole, Liverpool’s back four dealt with any danger. A shot from Townsend also had Kopites panicking when his long-range shot thankfully smashed off the bar.

A particular highlight should be placed on the young Joe Gomez playing alongside the superb Virgil van Dijk, I don’t need to sing the latter's praises, we all know how lucky we are to have signed that man but Gomez I thought deserved a mention.

A defender who has reentered the first team thanks to a Dejan Lovren injury could have struggled to impress due to the obvious pressure but he looked as calm as ever and put in some beautifully timed tackles.

Liverpool failed to open up the scoring despite sustained attack until right at the end of the first half. Mamadou Sakho who overall had a good game for Palace made a bad call when taking the decision to snap at Mo Salah in the box.

Some online were claiming Mo dived, he did not dive. Salah doesn’t dive, I still think people should consider themselves lucky to be watching a world-beating forward who is actually very honest and doesn’t spend his whole game rolling around on the floor. He was clipped twice and had his shirt pulled, Sakho was playing a dangerous game and for me, it was 100% a peno.

James Milner is the designated taker for the Reds and the stalwart did not fail to deliver with a confident spot-kick that put Liverpool ahead.

In the second half, at stages Palace began to find a bit of a foothold but Liverpool remained in control, Alisson made some important saves and it’s clear that the clean sheet is becoming as important as scoring goals.

One of Liverpool’s strengths is certainly the speed at which they can counter-attack and that is eventually what caught Palace off guard for our second of the night. A quick-thinking Mo Salah put Sadio Mane through on goal but the Senegal man still had a lot to do.

Sadio remained upright and continued his run to the right of goal, ending his move with a lovely finish to secure Liverpool’s three points. I bloody love Mane, he was on my shirt last year and after the start he’s made this season, I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.

Another shoutout must go to new signing Naby Keita who to me looks very lively. That sublime skill which left Townsend for dead in the first half and that almost perfect long range pass to Mo Salah? Phenomenal. This boy has some serious potential.

Importantly for me, as I said at the start of the post, this is a game that in previous seasons Liverpool would fail to win. The fact that we rode out the dangerous periods, kept a clean sheet and still scored twice? To me, that’s just as good as winning 6-1. Yes, it’s exciting to just win by means of scoring bags more goals than your opposition and conceding two or three on the way but it feels a lot better when you know you can rely on your defence and goalkeeper.

Roll on Brighton!

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Sunday, 19 August 2018

PREVIEW: Palace V Liverpool

The Reds travel to Selhurst Park on Monday evening as Klopp's side look to get the better of Roy Hodgson's men. In a game that some are calling an easy three points for Liverpool it's important to remember that Palace have tended to get the better of us in recent seasons and Hodgson is capable of grinding out a result.

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The last time the two sides met was in March this year, Salah and Mane both scored in the second half to secure victory for the Reds who were 1-0 down initially. The last match at Anfield came in August last year with Sadio again on the scoresheet, this time in a 1-0 win for the Reds.

In their last ten trips to Selhurst Park in all competitions, Liverpool have picked up four wins, they have drawn on two occasions and lost four times. 

Injuries for Liverpool mean they are unable to call upon Dejan Lovren who remains out with a pelvic issue he was carrying during the World Cup. Joel Matip is expected to return to the bench. Crystal Palace, on the other hand, have a full strength team at their disposal.

Zaha is clearly a man to watch out for in this fixture and he will certainly be looking to punish Jurgen Klopp's back four. Despite this, Liverpool on paper should have enough in their tank to collect all three points on Monday.

A slightly weakened defence may play into Palace's hands but the London side will also have to deal with the likes of Salah, Mane, Firmino and new introduction Keita, keeping them out if they want to gain anything from this game.

Palace will aim to nullify Liverpool, decreasing the amount of space and attempting to play in a compact fashion. Last season and the season before I would have been sat here typing that the Reds can't compete against that type of set up, that our side finds it hard to break teams down. However we have strengthened once again in the transfer window and I honestly feel that some of the issues we had last season may start to melt away with the introduction of players like Keita who are consistently looking to break through and providing a cutting edge pass.

Stat Sandwich*

  • Like your Monday night football? This will be Liverpool's 73rd Monday night game in the Premier League, more than any other side.
  • Crystal Palace have never won their opening home game of a Premier League season.
  • All five of the Reds' league defeats came away from Anfield last season.
It will definitely make for a good match tomorrow but I do think the Reds will come out on top. As I write this brief preview Manchester United are 3-1 down against Brighton (they'll probably find a way back) and Manchester City smashed Huddersfield 6-1 earlier so Klopp could do with keeping the momentum going.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

*All stats taken from BBC Sport.

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Monday, 13 August 2018

Reds Open The Season With A Win

Liverpool collected their first victory of the Premier League season in some style on Sunday after putting four past West Ham with no return. Expectations were high for the Reds who had strengthened their side during the summer transfer window but there was no reason to fear as Klopp’s side made this game look relatively straightforward.

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The Liverpool XI featured new signings Keita and Alisson but Shaqiri and Fabinho started on the bench. Keita, in particular, made a real impression on the game leaving pundits drooling over his obvious ability. He’s the kind of player who is always looking for the next ball, the next pass, the next move forward and just going off Sunday’s performance I think we can expect to see a lot from him this season.

The first goal for the Reds came from a familiar face, Mr Mo Salah! In the right place, at the right time, the Egyptian king was never going to miss this opportunity as he converted Andy Robertson’s cross. I was never in any doubt that Mo would hit the ground running this season but I think it’s very important that he did find the net in the first game.

The more time went on without Mo having scored, the more nervy things would have got. Pressure builds on a striker in any season but even more so after you pulled off such a phenomenal 2017/2018.

Next on the scoresheet for the Reds was Sadio Mane. Sometimes overlooked slightly due to battling for attention with his teammates Salah and Firmino, Mane always does a cracking job in my book and was the standout player in my opinion in last year’s Champions League final. His first goal of the afternoon came just before the half-time whistle. It was a good time to score for the Reds who were clearly on top of the game but could have perhaps done with an extended lead. Mane was left unmarked by the West Ham defence who were perhaps caught slacking, an easy conversion for Sadio put Liverpool 2-0 up.

West Ham will be an interesting team in the league this season I feel, Pellegrini has enough experience to navigate his side to safety I believe but I am unsure as to whether they will be able to pull off anything special. Some of the signings they have made will, of course, make an impact but judging by yesterday’s performance they may struggle against some of the bigger teams.

Mane’s second goal appeared to be offside but he cannot be faulted for playing to the whistle and again West Ham were caught. Sadio, assisted by Roberto Firmino, scored Liverpool’s third goal. It was Daniel Sturridge though who perhaps had the headlines. The forward has not scored for Liverpool in 10 months and after a loan spell at West Brom was marred by injury, there were several people wondering whether the striker would ever appear in a Liverpool shirt again.

For me, though it’s clear that Sturridge has always been happy at Anfield. Obviously, he would prefer to be starting every game but he’s also there to do a job and help his team and if that means coming off the bench for 20 minutes then so be it. Sturridge was introduced at 87 minutes on Sunday and within 24 seconds he’d found the back of the net, you just couldn’t write it! It was fantastic to see him complete his signature dance in front of the Anfield faithful and his impact again highlights the level of strength the Reds now have at their disposal.

In seasons gone by, if a game wasn’t exactly going to plan by 70 minutes you’d look to our options on the bench and struggle to see who could make a difference but yesterday we had Shaqiri, Fabinho, Henderson, Sturridge etc. That kind of flexibility is going to massively help us as the season goes on and I for one can’t wait for the next match!

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Saturday, 11 August 2018

Torino Friendly And Season Start

I very rarely get the chance to go to Anfield due to a variety of reasons, so when I saw that my favourite italian team Torino were coming to L4 for a friendly, I knew I had to try and get to the match.

It would be just two days after returning from a holiday in Montenegro and I'd need to convince the fella to drive us all the way up from Wolverhampton and back on a school night, but it could work? 

Me outside Anfield with my new away shirt and my Torino scarf I bought in Turin.
It did work, thanks to a very kind fella and a mad rush running across Stanley Park, I'd made it to my seat on the Kop just in time for You'll Never Walk Alone.

It was fantastic to get to see the likes of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane in the flesh and I was also lucky enough to get a glimpse of the new signings. Firmino, Wijnaldum and Sturridge all scored for the Reds. Sturridge's at the Kop end after a link up with Shaqiri was particularly special. 

I was also happy to see Belotti net one at the Kop End, which I know may seem like a strange thing to say but I have a real affection for Torino, my interest in Italian football saw me adopt them as my team. I got to see them play Inter Milan at home last year and they're a quality side, their fans too are absolutely brilliant and they showed that at Anfield on Tuesday night.

And so, that win over Torino marked the end of pre-season and the beginning of Klopp's third full season as Liverpool manager.

And so, West Ham await...

Liverpool ended last season in an almost fairytale fashion but Kiev did not hold the victory the Reds so desperately wanted. Salah went off crying, Ramos became the villain and Karius made some absolute howlers. The wounds are starting to heal but every Liverpool fan is fully aware that a lot is riding on this season.

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Klopp has strengthened an already effective team with some very savvy signings. The introduction of Shaqiri, Keita and Fabinho further enhances the Reds' attacking options and splashing the cash on Alisson will hopefully solve one of Liverpool's main pitfalls.

I read an opposition view piece on This Is Anfield earlier this week, it was a Wolves fan offering his thoughts on our side and he made a very good point: strikers win you matches, goalkeepers win you league titles.

I could not agree more I just hope that Liverpool can really push for that elusive 19th this season because they certainly have the team to do it.

The last time the Reds faced West Ham was in February this year. A confident 4-1 win over the Hammers saw goals from Can, Salah, Firmino and Mane. Liverpool's previous game against the London side, also ended 4-1 in November 2017.

The last time West Ham won at Anfield was in August 2015, Philippe Coutinho was sent off in the 3-0 loss.

A lot has changed at the London Stadium though since last season. New manager Manuel Pellegrini knows his way around the Premier League and he has been backed in the transfer window bringing in players such as Jack Wilshere.

I think it would have been a more difficult opener to the season for the Reds had this fixture been away from home but I fully expect Klopp's side to pick up three points on Sunday.

Injury news for Liverpool means they are unable to call upon Dejan Lovren who has only recently returned from an extended break after going all the way to the World Cup final with Croatia. There is also a doubt hanging over Fabinho who is apparently ill.

Pellegrini pretty much has his whole team at his disposal and it is expected that a lot of the new signings will feature.

Enjoy the match folks, it's been a long summer but we've made the most of the transfer market. I don't really feel anybody else has the same calibre of team as us aside from Manchester City and if we can just start to grind out results and reduce the silly mistakes, we could well be on for an exciting season!

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