The Liver Bird  

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Hazard Goal Sends Liverpool Out Of League Cup

Liverpool fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea on Wednesday evening in the League Cup despite looking in control for large portions of the game.

Jurgen Klopp fielded a weakened XI but maintained experience with the likes of Milner, Mane and Sturridge.

Embed from Getty Images

With the first half remaining 0-0 but both goalkeepers called into action, the Reds had to wait until just before the hour mark for their goal when Daniel Sturridge converted with an acrobatic effort at the Kop end.

The forward had missed an open net a few minutes earlier but redeemed himself with a brilliant goal. It's superb to know we have somebody like Daniel Sturridge to call upon because he will always find you a goal.

Chelsea equalised at 79 minutes thanks to a close-range conversion from Emerson. VAR was utilised but the goal was ruled onside. Simon Mignolet I thought was very unlucky here having made a great reaction save just prior to the effort. 

At this point, the match looked like it could be anybody's but it was Chelsea who put the final nail in the coffin thanks to the brilliance of Hazard. 

With five minutes left to go Hazard struck a stunning shot from range which flew into the top left corner and there wasn't much that Liverpool could do about that. The only thing I question really is whether Moreno could have pressed and piled on a bit more pressure? 

As the dying moments faded Jordan Henderson seemed hell-bent on attacking Hazard, perhaps one eye on Saturday's clash? Haha! 

Prior to kick off I had the attitude that I wouldn't mind if we won or lost last night's game but as the match went on and seeing how well we played with a weakened XI it was frustrating to not win that match and progress to the next round. 

Nevertheless, as long as we beat them at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, I think I'll get over it... 

To end on I'd like to highlight the tenacious performance from Shaqiri who for some reason at the end of the match got a bit of a talking to from Klopp. I'm sure the boss didn't mean it to come across that way but watching that on tele at the end was horrible, Shaq looked devastated and he'd put his all into that match. I'm sure all is fine now though.

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Monday, 24 September 2018

Chelsea In The League Cup At Anfield

"Chelsea In The League Cup At Anfield" - a headline that would usually envoke excitement from not only kopites but neutral football fans too. Not this time though, I genuinely couldn't really care less about this game and I realise how bad that sounds but the fact is, Klopp and his main team need to focus on Chelsea in the league at the weekend and the Napoli fixture next week.

Image via Sky Sports
Don't get me wrong, if we find a way past Chelsea in the cup with a weakened team, I'm all for it but it just shouldn't be taking any real focus from Liverpool at the moment, other than to act as a brilliant opportunity for some of our youngsters to gain valuable experience.

Depending on which blog or newspaper article you read, our predicted starting XI varies quite a bit. I personally would certainly expect to see Mignolet in goal and I am expecting Sturridge and Henderson who aren't really starting matches at the moment but offer that base of experience and stability.

As for the rest of the side, I'm hoping to see Clyne and although I've had my moments with him, it would be nice to see Moreno get a bit of game time.

For Chelsea, I can't decide whether Sarri is going to use this as a good opportunity to push for silverware or whether he too is focused on the league game. Chelsea are in the Europa League and so may not be placing as much importance on that as Liverpool will undoubtedly be doing for their upcoming European fixture.

One thing I do know is that Italian managers know what they're doing when it comes to English football. Sarri has started very well and tactically I think he has quite a lot of teams sussed out, will he outfox Klopp though? I'm not so sure.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Five Things We Learned From PSG

1) Daniel Sturridge is still a top class striker

Prior to the match having seen the starting line up, I was all over Sturridge to grab Liverpool a goal. So convinced was I that I popped a quid on a Daniel Sturridge 3-1 scorecast (close to winning bloody £35 quid!).

On Twitter though I was met with an interesting reaction, I was being too optimistic with the scoreline, Sturridge would never score etc. I think sometimes fans forget how prolific Sturridge has been in his career, give him an opportunity like a night under the floodlights against PSG and he will make you proud.

I was elated to see him dancing in front of the Kop after a cracking header.

Image via The Times

2) PSG aren’t actually that good?

Supposedly one of the best teams in the world I think PSG put on display some of their weaknesses on Tuesday night. Yes, they have some superstars in the team but they left masses of space for Liverpool to attack and for me lacked in intensity when out of possession.

Their style may work week in, week out in the French league but I’m not so sure it will stand them in good stead in Europe this season.

3) Liverpool are relentless

By contrast, Liverpool are constantly pressing the ball. Klopp’s style of play and training sessions certainly do not go to waste. Whenever a PSG player had the ball there were at least three Liverpool players on his tail.

The Reds never give their opposition time to breathe which can be extremely frustrating for a side like PSG who on any other occasion would probably receive a lot more freedom.

4) Lack of potency from PSG front three

Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani? Ok, so Mbappe eventually got his side what looked certain to be an equaliser but on the whole are they really that potent? I know we had home advantage but when comparing the performances of Mane, Salah and Sturridge to the PSG front three, who came off better?

Even with Mo having a slightly slower night I feel our forwards bring way more to the game compared to the French side’s attacking outfit. I know some strikers just don’t track back but PSG came unstuck at Anfield last night and in part that was down to a lack of effort from their forwards away from goal.

To be victorious in a competition such as the Champions League your whole team has got to be grafting. Leaving your three men up front may work on some occasions but up against the best teams that Europe has to offer? It just isn’t going to cut it. I was very surprised at the lack of impact from the PSG front three and I will be interested to see how they perform in Paris.

5) Roberto Firmino is an absolute legend

Having suffered a terrible eye injury against Spurs at the weekend, it was doubtful Firmino would even feature against PSG. The Brazilian entered play at 72 minutes replacing the brilliant Daniel Sturridge.

Just ten minutes later and Firmino along with the 10 other Reds on the pitch had to watch Mbappe score an apparent equaliser. Liverpool could have stopped the pressing, after all a 2-2 draw with PSG isn’t so bad? Klopp, however, would rarely ever instruct his side to quit and the Reds with the help of Bobby Firmino silenced the travelling French fans who had been loud as hell all night.

Firmino picked up the ball on the right-hand side of the box with just two minutes of injury time left to play. A little cut inside and some true composure while surrounded by PSG defenders allowed the Brazillian to finish with a powerful strike gifting Liverpool an important win.

To top it all off Bobby celebrated with a hand over his injured eye, absolute quality haha!

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Sunday, 16 September 2018

Five Things We Learned From The Win Over Spurs

1) First time since 1990

Saturday's victory over Spurs at Wembley made it five wins on the bounce for Liverpool. It's the first time the Reds have won five games in a row at the start of the season since 1990.

Jurgen Klopp's side were in complete command for the majority of the game and it could have been 4 or 5-0 at one stage but the Reds lacked a little when it came to the final ball. Despite this, goals from Gini WIjnaldum (confirmed by goal-line technology) and Roberto Firmino were enough for Liverpool to take all three points.

A late surge from Spurs wasn't enough for the home side to take away any points but it was a great goal from a tight angle by Lamela with two minutes of extra time to go.

Embed from Getty Images

2) Selfish strikers, good or bad?

One of the many positives of this Liverpool side is the fact that the goals can come from anywhere. We have an immense front three and if one or even two of them are having a bad day, you are almost guaranteed that the other will score.

A key talking point for me yesterday was Sadio Mane's decision making. I am a massive fan of Sadio but he can sometimes fail to pass when another player is begging for the ball. However, on the flip side, you have to ask yourself, there's a reason Sadio is the top scorer in a red shirt so far this season... sometimes being selfish is a good thing.

On this occasion, those moments where Sadio didn't choose to pass or play in a colleague didn't matter but it will be interesting to see what the fans think if we have a game where decisions like that cost us. It's all about getting a balance I think and for the time being the front three have that harmony sorted.

3) Firmino top class

Firmino was lucky to walk away from yesterday's match with his vision still intact after a nasty accidental collision with Vertonghen's hand, thankfully he was ok. During the time he was on the pitch though Firmino was immense, for a striker he doesn't half put a shift in regaining possession and chasing people down.

His goal was more of right place at the right time but still, he was sniffing around and creating problems in the box during the majority of any Liverpool attacks. Jamie Redknapp debated whether Firmino is the most underrated player in the Premier League and for me, it's a very interesting question.

Firmino may be living slightly in the shadow of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane but in terms of his work rate and the whole package of abilities? He is an absolute asset to the club and I know 100% that both Salah and Mane must be over the moon they have him alongside them in the attack.

4) Joe Gomez a revelation

I've probably already discussed Joe quite a bit on the blog already this season but I couldn't avoid adding him in again today. I can't get over how easily he has regained fitness and form, slotting in next to Virgil van Dijk is a big ask but the youngster has been an absolute revelation since returning to the starting XI.

He put in some very important tackles yesterday at times when Spurs found a bit of a footing and it is clear his positional awareness is strengthening with each match. I am hugely impressed with Joe.

5) Reds still not quite in top gear

Despite all of the positives and the fact that Liverpool have won yet another game, remarkably, most fans including myself, would still not suggest that Liverpool are in top form. 

Some would argue that is a bad thing but for me it's quite the opposite. The fact that the Reds have picked up five wins playing below their best is brilliant and the momentum will hopefully carry us into the Champions League next week.

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Saturday, 15 September 2018

PREVIEW: Spurs V Liverpool

The international break is over, hooray! My god that week seemed to drag but we're back and Liverpool make the trip to London to face Spurs at Wembley on Saturday afternoon.

Image via
The Reds are sitting pretty at the top of the table with four wins out of four. Victories against teams such as Crystal Palace and Brighton are precious to the Reds who would have struggled to secure all three points in games like this last season. When it came to sides like City, Arsenal etc the Reds could usually guarantee that their performance would be much, much better. Here's hoping that's the case on Saturday.

Spurs shocked several football fans recently in the league when they beat Manchester United 3-0 but then followed this up with a loss to Watford who came from behind to get the better of Pochettino's side.

There is no doubt that Spurs, despite not buying anybody in the transfer window, have a very strong side with some game changers in their starting XI but do they have enough in terms of consistency to be pushing the likes of City and Liverpool who are expected to be battling for the title?

Injuries for Spurs mean they are unable to call upon Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris. Star striker Harry Kane remains fit while Son Heung-min is also available for this clash. For Liverpool, they are still without Adam Lallana who has a groin strain.

The last time the two sides met was in February this year. Mo Salah opened up the scoring at Anfield after just three minutes and that's the way it stayed until Wanyama found an 80th-minute equaliser for Spurs.  At 90+1 Salah scored a second stunning goal, everybody in the ground was convinced this was the winner but Kane was awarded a penalty at 90+5 and obviously converted.

The Reds last trip to Wembley didn't end so well after Spurs beat Klopp's side 4-1. I vividly remember this game because I was absolutely fuming at Dejan Lovren, he had a horrendous time during that game and I remember thinking if he doesn't improve he won't stay at the club much longer. Thankfully, Lovren appeared to take that performance very seriously, I think it hit him hard and he followed up with some very strong displays for Liverpool and even went all the way to the World Cup final with Croatia.

I honestly feel as though Liverpool are ready for this match, I think it's going to be quite open and players such as Mane, Salah and Firmino will be able to exploit gaps left through counter-attacking football. However, Klopp will also have one eye on a massive build up of fixtures over the coming months and this could reflect in his team selection/tactics.

Liverpool's next six matches after the game against Spurs are: PSG at home, Southampton at home, Chelsea in the league cup at home, Chelsea away, Napoli away and Man City at home. I'm out of breath just typing that haha. Get it right though and Liverpool could be in an extraordinary position.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Sunday, 2 September 2018

Five Things We Learned From The King Power

Image via Metro

1) Alisson needs to tone down the antics

I like seeing a bit of skill as much as the next person but not from my bloody goalkeeper. I mentioned in a previous post that Alisson only performs these tricks because he's confident and there's nothing wrong with having a confident keeper but he needs to stop his antics.

The Brazilian gifted Leicester their goal just after the hour mark and for a time it felt as though the home side might be able to get back into the game. Thankfully for Alisson that never happened and hopefully he's now learnt his lesson. Away from that daft mistake, he looked strong once again when called into action against the Foxes.

2) Sadio Mane could be the star of this season

Mane now has four goals in four matches for the Reds and when our Egyptian king couldn't quite find the net early on, it fell to Sadio to put Liverpool 1-0 up. A strong finish from an Andy Robertson cross was just what Klopp's side needed and I feel Mane could be a very important asset this season.

Sadio was the stand out player in the Champions League final for the Reds and he's more than capable of finding a goal when everybody else has run out of options. Salah will be battling for the prize of star player but I do think Mane will be a contender.

Also, I had a quid on Sadio Mane 2-1 and won £50 so perhaps I'm being biased...

3) Reds look more in control

Saturday's result was another indication of Liverpool's level of control. Some would argue that we look a lot less potent in attack and that this is a negative but for me, we look an overall more balanced side and we're maintaining the lead in games we would have let slip last season.

Maximum points against sides like Brighton and Leicester is weirdly a huge plus for Liverpool, these are the kinds of sides that would make things difficult for us previously. If we can collect all three points against them, I do not fear the likes of Spurs and Man CIty where our forwards really will be able to punish, exploiting the inevitable gaps left by a more open team.

4) Klopp not afraid to make big substitutions

When Mo Salah was subbed off I have to admit I was quite surprised but compared to Firmino and Mane he was the quieter player. Subbing Mo I feel shows that no player at Liverpool is above being substituted or even dropped and that's probably the right way to play things.

Players need to know that they have a chance of getting into the side and similarly, stars need to know they aren't irreplaceable. However, I think if we are honest Salah was probably subbed because Klopp has one eye on the fixture pile up.

5) Liverpool have the squad to manage upcoming fixtures

On that note of a fixture pile up. Liverpool definitely have the squad to get through this phase of Champions League games while continuing to battle for the title. Being able to bring on Shaqiri and Keita yesterday is something we could only dream of in previous seasons plus we have players like Fabinho and Sturridge to call upon.

I definitely feel a lot more comfortable going into the following months with our current squad. If we hadn't of spent so well in the transfer window this summer we could have been ins some real trouble.

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