The Liver Bird  

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Lacklustre Liverpool Lose In Parisian Theatre

Liverpool fell to a 2-1 defeat in Paris on Wednesday evening, handing themselves a big blow to their hopes of progressing out of their Champions League group. Football stadia are often referred to as theatres but you could have been watching Shakespeare's finest last night with the amount of amateur dramatics on show, it really was embarrassing.

Don't get me wrong, the Reds did not deserve to win that match for reasons I will attempt to go into but what do the PSG fans truly make of their star players rolling around like they've been shot every five minutes? It's frustrating as hell and it really ruins the magic of players like Neymar for me. I'd sooner back a world-class footballer that can stay on his pissin' feet.

At one point Thiago Silva fell over with no Liverpool players near him, hit his head on the pitch and proceeded to roll around in agony like he was concussed. It's a bit of grass mate, get up.

Image via Independent

Away from the PSG theatrics, the French side did well to score so early on in the game. I was saying to my mate in the pub that this could come down to who gets off the mark quicker, both teams have a punishing attack but if one gains momentum before the other it can be hard to fight back.

The goal scored by Bernat after 13 minutes was aided by a rare dodgy clearance from Virgil van Dijk and PSG's second at 37 minutes was finished by Neymar after a strong counter-attack.

Liverpool weren't showing any real signs of finding the back of the net but Sadio Mane (who for me was one of very few players deserving of a mention last night) caused issues in the box and after some deliberation, the referee awarded a penalty. James Milner confidently put the spot kick past Gianluigi Buffon, an apt way to celebrate his 150th game for the club.

After scoring the peno, I felt like we'd get back into the match but the second half was pretty much the same as the first. The midfield for me looked lacking in options, afraid to push forward and constantly passing back. In fairness though, even when the ball did trickle forward, Salah and Firmino, on the whole, were quiet by their standards and I can't really think of any troublesome attacks that PSG had to deal with. Any half chance seemed to arise from corners or free kicks.

It just didn't happen for the Reds, prior to us kicking off in the group stages I'd kind of written off PSG away as zero points but after we slipped up against Red Star and knowing a win or even a draw would make our lives easier, I genuinely thought we might have a chance. I certainly thought we'd put on a better display than the 90 minutes I saw.

Nevertheless, Liverpool are a team synonymous with miracles in Europe and this isn't over just yet. The Reds need a 1-0 win over Napoli or to win by two clear goals if the Italians find the net. From what I know of Napoli, I fully expect them to find the back of the net, also Napoli will be desperate to win because if we get the better of them and PSG beat Red Star, they'll drop into the Europa League. 

So I find myself reminiscing of Olympiakos all those years ago... To be honest though, I still think under the Anfield floodlights the Reds could quite confidently beat Napoli, I just hope it doesn't prove to be another off day for the lads.

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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

PREVIEW: PSG V Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp's side travel to the French capital on Wednesday evening as the Reds look to try and put destiny back in their own hands. Liverpool do not have to win this fixture to go through, they don't even have to draw but things would be a hell of a lot easier if the lads can pick up some sort of result in Paris.

The loss to Red Star out in Serbia was somewhat unexpected and has created a bit of an issue for Liverpool who would have been on nine points with two matches to go if they could have found victory. PSG is a hard place to go, the French fans know how to create an intimidating atmosphere and with players like Neymar and Mbappe they are always going to create a threat.

Injury news though indicates that the two aforementioned starlets will be subject to late fitness tests for this clash and to be honest I'll take any help we can get. Don't get me wrong, I still think the Reds are capable of getting three points in France but any weakened line up from PSG is surely a bonus.

Image via goal.com
For Liverpool, Joe Gomez returns to the team and it also appears that Sadio Mane will travel after coming down with an illness earlier this week.

The last time the two sides met, in case you have forgotten, was in September this year. The group match was an enthralling affair at Anfield which ended with Roberto Firmino scoring a winner at the Kop end on 90 minutes.

Prior to this tie, the sides have met previously during two legs of the semi-final of the European Cup Winners Cup. The Reds failed to score on that trip to Paris, PSG won the semi-final 3-2 on aggregate.

Liverpool have never lost all three away group games in the European Cup but PSG are unbeaten in their last 20 home group games in the competition. It is bound to be a tight contest on Wednesday evening but I genuinely think the Reds can win. At their very best, Liverpool's attacking line up is as good as any in Europe at the moment and I don't doubt for one second that one of our front men will find the back of the net.

The issue for me lies with who is fit, if Mane misses out that will leave a big hole in my opinion. Similarly, if Neymar and Mbappe both make the cut, a quick start for the Parisians could leave Liverpool lagging.

I am thoroughly looking forward to a night in the pub in front of this one. Head back to The Liver Bird on Thursday for a match report of some kind.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Thursday, 22 November 2018

PREVIEW: Watford V Liverpool

Long time, no blog... I must apologise for the lack of content on The Liver Bird lately. I've struggled quite a bit balancing blogging since starting work a couple of years back now and it always seems to be even more difficult towards the Christmas period with fixture pile ups and festivities. However, I am here and I will certainly still be writing about my beloved Reds just perhaps a tad infrequently.

Anway... I am glad you have all survived the international break. I genuinely feel like part of me is missing during these parts of the season, don't know where to put myself, but we're back and it's Watford up next for Jurgen Klopp's side.

Liverpool have pretty much a full squad for this game with just the one doubt hanging over Jordan Henderson. For Watford, they are also looking strong as Capoue returns from a suspension and Will Hughes regains fitness.

Image via Liverpool Echo
The last time the two sides met was in March this year, the game ended 5-0 for Liverpool with four goals from the magnificent Mo Salah and one goal from Firmino. The Reds' last trip to Vicarage Road also saw several goals but this time it was a point for each side in a 3-3 draw. In the last six meetings between the two sides in the Premier League, there have been four victories for Liverpool, one win for Watford and one draw.

The Reds are currently second in the table, two points behind Manchester City and one of only three teams who are yet to lose a game. Watford sit in 7th at the time of writing but have only won two out of their last five league matches.

Watford started the season very strongly but appear to have dropped form a bit lately having only managed a draw with Southampton and also losing to Rafa Benitez's struggling Newcastle.

I think it's a match that could prove more difficult than most are expecting and Liverpool need to be careful not to underestimate Gracia's side. It will be interesting to see what XI Klopp fields with one eye on an extremely important match against PSG next week.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching. I will miss this one as I'm off to London to catch up with Uni mates!

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Wednesday, 7 November 2018

REPORT: Red Star Belgrade 2 Liverpool 0

Liverpool fell to an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday evening. The trip to Serbia was always going to create problems for the Reds and when the home side found the back of the net first a rapturous support pushed their team further and further into ascendancy. 

Image via The Australian
Liverpool could have taken the lead when Daniel Sturridge failed to convert from about five yards out. It was very unlike the forward to miss a golden opportunity like that. This would be a chance Klopp's side would rue as the home side settled in. 
Pavkov found Red Star's first goal of the night after heading in from a corner just after the 20-minute mark. He easily lost his man and for once there were perhaps a few questions being asked of Liverpool's defence. 

A second goal for Pavkov just eight minutes later truly blew the wind out of Liverpool's sails. A good strike from range potentially could have been dealt with a bit better position wise by goalkeeper Alisson but nobody really saw that effort coming. 

Two-nil up and playing at home, Red Star were not going to give away this victory easily and they fought valiantly to ensure Liverpool were unable to find the net. The Reds hit the woodwork twice and had several efforts blocked or saved by goalkeeper Borjan. Despite retaining 80% of possession Liverpool just couldn't find a goal.

A changed starting XI perhaps didn't help Jurgen Klopp as Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Joel Matip were all thrown in but didn't perform to their best level. The second half immediate introduction of Firmino and Joe Gomez didn't seem to help matters either and for me bringing on Origi was just sheer desperation. 

It's one of the worst games I've seen from Liverpool in a very long time. We always seem to have to make things difficult for ourselves!

The other game in our group saw Napoli take on PSG, ending in a 1-1 draw this means that Group C is now completely wide open. Prior to playing a game in the group, I looked at PSG away and thought, anything from that is a bonus. As it turns out, we may well need a result in France to stop us crashing out of the Champions League. That PSG game is huge! 

One thing I do know though is that Liverpool are capable of anything in Europe, this is not over yet.

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Sunday, 4 November 2018

REPORT: Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1

Liverpool had the better chances at the Emirates on Saturday evening but could not find a way to collect all three points against Arsenal. 

The Reds started in a lively fashion and despite Arsenal's increasing possession stats, Klopp's side were still able to make the most of it on the break. 

Image via Daily Star
A goal in the first half from Sadio Mane was incorrectly ruled offside, Mane being involved in the second phase of play after Firmino, who was onside, played the pass. It was a harsh decision and had it been given it could have provided Liverpool with a real boost early on in a difficult game. 

You don't necessarily expect a defender to have the best chances for your side but Virgil van Dijk went close on three occasions for Liverpool. It was extra frustrating for me watching on as I had a quid on van Dijk to score anytime arghhhhh haha. I particularly enjoyed his effort when he remained up from a corner and took it down like a world class striker if only he'd sent it to the left or right of the keeper!

Liverpool's chance to take the lead finally came just after the hour mark when the ball splayed out to the edge of the box there's a sense of relief once you see James Milner heading towards it, he was always going to smash that ball in the net. His face during the celebration said it all, 1-0 up with half hour to go and it looked as though Liverpool might be able to take the victory. 

That was until the influential Lacazette got involved though. The forward has been a revelation so far this season for the London side and it was obvious he would make his mark during this key fixture. 

Alisson for me shouldn't really have come out towards the attacker but when you assess the positioning of the defence at the time, he probably had little choice. Whether he should, or shouldn't have come out though, you have to hand it to Lacazette, it was a stunning finish and not many players would find the net from there. 

With just eight minutes to go, Liverpool nearly found the net straight after the Arsenal goal thanks to a quick break but Mane's shot missed the target.

It was a game that Liverpool really should have won but in the grand scheme of things, is a 1-1 draw away at Arsenal a bad result? I certainly don't think so. The result moved us back to the top of the league with City of course yet to play but overall things are looking very steady at the moment for the Reds. 

If Klopp's side just keep doing what they're doing, Liverpool could be in a very exciting posting post-Christmas. 

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Thursday, 1 November 2018

PREVIEW: Arsenal V Liverpool

Liverpool travel to Arsenal on Saturday evening in what is set to be an exciting game for the neutral but a nervous time for any Kopites or Gunners. 

Image via premierleague.com
The Reds come into this fixture on the back of a 4-1 win over Cardiff. Arsenal, on the other hand, drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace in their most recent fixture which was a surprise for many. 
The Londoners started the season with some tough fixtures but had quietly (we'll not so quietly actually, their performances have caught everyone's eye) gone about their business until that hiccup against Palace. 

Liverpool remain unbeaten in the league at the moment alongside City and Chelsea but Arsenal have lost twice so far this season. 

Injuries for the Reds mean doubts are banging over Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson. 

Arsenal have taken a bit of a hit and also have a league cup game to contend with prior to our clash. Koscielny remains out, Bellerin is a doubt while both Kolasinac and Monreal will undergo late fitness tests. 

The last time the two sides met was in  December last year. Living up to its hype, that game ended 3-3 with Coutinho, Salah and Firmino on the scoresheet for Liverpool. Arsenal's last trip to Anfield saw them fail to find the back of the net as the Reds won 4-0.

Liverpool have not lost to Arsenal since April 2015. 

I am in Inverness for this one as I'm away for my birthday. I am hoping I can catch the game in a nice cosy Scottish pub haha. I am not sure whether we'll have enough to get a win from the Emirates but I can see this one being a high scoring draw. 

Enjoy the match folks wherever you are watching! 

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