The Liver Bird  

Thursday, 25 October 2018

REPORT: Reds Put 4 Past Red Star

Despite injuries creating an issue for Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool won confidently on Wednesday night with a slightly altered XI captained by Virgil van Dijk. 

Image via The Independent
The Reds took a while to build into the game but got off the mark at 20 minutes thanks to a lovely strike from Bobby Firmino. The forward was set up by the brilliant Andy Robertson. 

Salah found Liverpool a second right on the stroke of half-time and it was great to see him find the net again after scoring against Huddersfield. Some consistency for Mo will do wonders for his confidence and continued goal scoring. 

A few minutes into the second half Sadio Mane won a penalty. Some would argue it was a soft one but he was impeded in continuing his run for the ball so for me, it was a fair decision. Mo Salah stepped up to convert the spot kick making it his 50th goal in 65 games for Liverpool, absolutely phenomenal. 

Red Star didn't trouble Alisson at all and while a side like Liverpool should always be beating this calibre of opposition I did expect a little bit more from the Serbian side. 

At 80 minutes Mane made up for watching Liverpool's second spot-kick of the night be saved. A shot into the bottom corner was enough to seal the 4-0 victory for the Reds. Job done. 

Players who I think deserve a mention away from the goal scorers include the tenacious Shaqiri who I think definitely deserves more game time and also Fabinho. 

For the first ten minutes or so and after a very risky tackle that could have seen him receive a yellow, I was a little bit concerned but Fabinho settled into the game very well and I thought, on the whole, was quite impressive. You have to take into account that this was perhaps an easier game for a midfielder but I can't wait to see him feature more in the starting XI.

Next up for the Reds is Cardiff. 

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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

PREVIEW: Huddersfield V Liverpool

Liverpool make the short trip to Huddersfield this weekend as the Reds look to pick up where they left off prior to the international break. A draw with City for many at the time felt like quite a frustrating result for the Reds but having had time to ponder, in the grand scheme of things, if Klopp's side can get back in the saddle this weekend, things are looking rather rosy.

Image via Sky Sports
Huddersfield are struggling to say the least and so far this season they have yet to find the back of the net at home. The Terriers currently sit 18th in the table on just three points. By contrast, the Reds are in third only due to goal difference, joint on points with both Chelsea and Manchester City.

Injuries for Liverpool took a bad turn during the international break as news of knocks and even broken bones began to filter through. A suspected broken thumb for Sadio Mane has seen him undergo hand surgery, Naby Keita left the field with an injury in the Guinea v Rwanda match and Mo Salah also went off injured after scoring from a corner for Egypt.

The latest news I've found online is that all three players may actually remain available for selection against Huddersfield. As I write this brief post on Wednesday evening, I would personally be very surprised if all three of them appeared against Huddersfield and part of me would be reluctant to risk it, to be honest.

With players like Daniel Sturridge at your disposal, this is a match I feel would suit him well. Shaqiri could also offer an interesting option if Klopp is looking to be more cautious with some of his star players returning from international duty.

The last time the two sides met was in January this year, goals from Can, Firmino and a Salah penalty saw Liverpool win the match 3-0. The Reds also won the reverse fixture at Anfield in October 2017 3-0, this time with goals from Sturridge, Firmino and WIjnaldum.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Monday, 8 October 2018

Reds Pick Up Draw Against City

After all the build-up to this match and judging by the recent meetings between the two sides, not many would have had this one down as a 0-0 draw. In a game where Liverpool looked lacking up front but solid at the back, it was perhaps the right result come 90 minutes, aided by Mahrez's inability to convert from the spot.


Image via The Independent
Both managers will have wanted nothing more than victory in this game at Anfield but as the match unfolded it became clear that both had learnt lessons in how to subdue the attack of the opposition. It's fair to say that Liverpool's front three haven't been as prolific as they were last season but I did feel they would get the space they required against City, it didn't pan out that way though with Mane, Salah and Firmino on the whole being crowded out.

Similarly, the Manchester City attack was coming up against a brick wall in the likes of Lovren and Virgil van Dijk. Lovren in particular apart from a couple of mishaps had a brilliant game in my opinion. Considering several fans were worried when he was named on the team sheet I thought he was solid, on his day, Lovren is a strong defender. Yes, he plays very close to the line and can often find himself in trouble but I can guarantee you, strikers do not like playing against defenders like the Croatian.

For me, Lovren's perfectly timed tackle in the second half was the icing on the cake. Stunning.

Alongside Lovren was Mr van Dijk. The defender has created a huge impact on the Liverpool side since appearing last January and for the majority of the 90 minutes yesterday he instructed his team to see off City and defended well. It is utterly a bizarre feeling as a Liverpool fan to be sat there and able to rely on your defensive performance. Alien.

Unfortunately for the Reds, their defending was somewhat marred when Virgil made a silly decision to take down Sane in the box. For me, Sane was going nowhere, there was no need to stick the foot in but what's done is done.

Mahrez stepped up to take the penalty in what I was certain would turn out to be a dramatic City winner but the ex Leicester man skied his spot kick leaving Klopp and his side relieved to say the least.

It's a weird situation at the moment because I remember saying a few weeks back either on the blog here or on Twitter, if Liverpool can get through this ridiculous run of fixtures into October, we will be in a very strong position. We have made it through those fixtures, we've collected two points against Chelsea and City who look like our major rivals and are joint on points at the top, that can't be a bad thing surely? Of course it is not but the one thing that slightly concerns me is the Reds lack of potency in attack.

Something isn't quite right at the moment, part of me feels as though the linkage between the midfield and strikers isn't as slick as last year. All I know is that Liverpool will at some stage need to get out of first gear and with a run of supposedly easier fixtures, here's hoping Klopp and his team can really kick on now up to Christmas!

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Sunday, 7 October 2018

Man City At Anfield

In just a few hours Liverpool will walk out at Anfield against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City. The Sky Blues are currently sitting top of the Premier League table thanks to a better goal difference than Jurgen Klopp's side. Liverpool will be desperate to make the most of this chance against City and to put distance between themselves and every other team in the league for the time being.

Image via express.co.uk
Onlookers Chelsea will be begging that this game ends in a draw and to be honest it's definitely a possibility. If it is a draw, it'll be a 2-2 or a 3-3 because I'm convinced this game will have goals. For me, the way in which City play will massively assist Liverpool and players such as Mane, Salah and Firmino should be able to capitalise on the gaps left by the visitors.

Injuries for Liverpool are pretty much the same, thankfully though, for the Reds, Naby Keita who went off against Napoli with a back problem may still be able to feature having been checked over thoroughly by medical staff. 

Pep Guardiola receives a boost team wise as both Kevin De Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy returned to training earlier this week. Ilkay Gundogan, however, remains a doubt.

The last time the two sides met was in April last year. The second leg of a huge Champions League tie ended in a 2-1 win for Liverpool thanks to goals from the brilliant Mo Salah and the influential Roberto Firmino.

The reverse of this fixture at Anfield also ended superbly for the Reds after they picked up a 3-0 win. A feast for the eyes of Kopites in the ground and around the world saw Klopp's side utterly control Manchester City. Oxlade-Chamberlain's goal that night was a particular highlight for me from last season as a whole.

In the Premier League fixture at Anfield during January, Liverpool once again got the better of Guardiola's side. A game that ended 4-3 for the Reds saw goals from Oxlade-Chamberlain, Firmino, Mane and Salah. City scored two goals in quick succession at 84 and 90 minutes which sent hearts racing but Klopp's side held on for all three points.

History tells us that this game will be an exciting one. Some fans have been overly critical of the Liverpool side after the last minute loss at the hands of Napoli in Italy but for me, that fixture was always going to be a tough one and it's unfortunate the Reds couldn't quite hold on for the draw.

Anybody who thinks the Reds are going to let that result affect them going into this game has another thing coming because there is no other fixture in this league at the moment that will drive on Klopp's side more than a mouthwatering tie against Manchester City.

If the Reds can find a win here we will have come through an extremely tough period of both league and European fixtures, not only still in with a great shot of getting through to the group stages but also sitting pretty at the top of the league going into another international break. All completed while still arguably playing below our true potential, I for one am not going to argue with that.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Thursday, 4 October 2018

Liverpool Lose In Italy After Late Lorenzo Goal

A frustrating result in Italy for Liverpool meant the Reds threw away a point in the 90th minute having somehow held on to a 0-0 draw for the majority of the match. The influential Insigne, who was always bound to have a say in this match, converted late on to send the tifosi wild leaving Liverpool fans utterly deflated. 

Image via foxsports.com.au
The game was an unproductive one for the Reds who failed really to call Napoli keeper Ospina into action. A front three consisting of Salah, Firmino and Mane would usually guarantee you a goal but not on Wednesday night. 

Added to the mix was an early injury to Naby Keita who went off clutching his back. At the time of writing, I believe he is getting checked over in hospital. It's hard to tell how much of an impact something like that has, especially so early on but it will have created an issue in Liverpool's momentum. 

Napoli were the ones with all the dangerous chances in this game and at one stage Mertens nearly converted only to see his deflection smash out off the bar. Alisson between the sticks had a rather busy night and if it wasn't for him Liverpool would have been in a far worse position.

One thing that really annoyed me on Wednesday night was actually away from the match itself but with some Liverpool fans in the pub. Literally everytime Mane touched the ball all you would hear is "pass, pass it though, ohhh man why doesn't he pass"... it was driving me bloody mad.

Granted, Mane is a selfish player, he's always been a forward more likely to keep his head down but in my opinion there's nothing wrong with being a bit selfish from time to time and the fact is, one of the major reasons we are joint top of the league at the moment is because of Sadio Mane. Last night he was one of few even creating any attacks and an almost perfect pass (yes pass, did you hear that?!) through to Mo Salah could have resulted in the Egyptian scoring a winner on another occasion.

The Reds did not deserve to win this game, no chance, but I do feel as though they deserved the draw. People forget that Italian sides are notoriously hard to break down, especially at home and especially underneath the instruction of Carlo Ancelotti. 

I said in the preview that he's a manager I really admire and after last nights performance he only strengthened my feelings. We were outplayed in the midfield and kept extremely quiet in front of goal. My main gripe was that if I'm Klopp looking at that match unfold, I'm bringing on Sturridge at least at 70 minutes?

Despite the result and rather dire performance, Liverpool do not have time to dwell. With City at the weekend, our focus must be regained, we can have City, I honestly think we can. Their style of play suits us better and we've grabbed points in nearly every match this season so far while only playing in first gear. The spaces left open by City I believe will prove fruitful for our forwards. 

Importantly for the Reds they picked up that late win over PSG. Add to this the fact that Napoli only managed a draw with Red Star and looking at the remaining group games you would hope Klopp's side have enough to get through the group. 

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Tuesday, 2 October 2018

PREVIEW: Napoli v Liverpool

Liverpool are in Italy on Wednesday night to face Carlo Ancelotti's Napoli. Carlo is a manager I truly admire and Italian football is something I love so I am very much looking forward to our Champions League tie this week and hope the Reds can come away with a win.

Image via standard.co.uk

One of the top supported clubs in Italy, Napoli have started their season well and currently sit second in Serie A, six points behind leaders Juventus. Their record in the European Cup is relatively strong and Naples always proves to be a difficult venue for travelling teams.

Players like Insigne and Hamsik can pose a real threat in this match with the former being 2nd in the top scorers' list in Italy at the moment. 

There are no injury concerns for Napoli and Jurgen Klopp now has Dejan Lovren back and could potentially call upon the World Cup finalist for his back four selection.

Napoli and Liverpool have only ever crossed paths twice before this game, that was in the Europa League in the 2010/2011 season. The Reds drew 0-0 in Italy with a team that featured Paul Konchesky and won 3-1 at Anfield thanks to a Steven Gerrard hat-trick.

After Roberto Firmino netted a late winner against PSG, it is hoped that the Reds can continue their momentum against Napoli. I personally think it is going to be a very difficult game for Liverpool but I also feel Napoli's style of play will suit Klopp's side.

Napoli have won three out of their last six in all competitions while Liverpool have won four. Napoli only managed a draw in their opening group game in the Champions League against Red Star Belgrade and they enter this game on the back of a damaging loss at the hands of Juventus. The Reds on the other hand, enter this match after a dramatic game at Stamford Bridge when Daniel Sturridge fired home a stunning strike to nick a point.

It will be interesting to see who Klopp fields for this one in his starting XI as he must have an eye on the Man City game at the weekend.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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