The Liver Bird  

Saturday, 18 May 2019

97 Points: Season Highlights

What a season, to have finished on 97 points but still not win the league just shows how phenomenal Liverpool have had to be in order to keep up with Manchester City and Pep Guardiola.

Opposition fans can continue to try and wind us up all they want with their claim we were 10 points clear (we weren't) and their accusations of us bottling it but they're just miffed that they can no longer take the mick out of this football club because they're an absolute gulf away from us. 

Image via The Independent
To celebrate the season I thought I'd do a blog post with a few of my highlights from 2018/2019 and of course we still have that massive Champions League final to look forward to!

Thanks for reading this season folks, as you've probably noticed I don't get chance to blog anywhere near as much as I used to and 2019 has been crazy! I moved out of the parents' house, got another promotion and also got engaged so it's all been going on! While I may not blog as often you will still definitely see me writing as it's something I've always enjoyed.

Let me know what your highlights of the season were on Twitter: @LFCKirstyLFC

Personal Highlights:

Sturridge equaliser against Chelsea

Way back in September, Liverpool had started the season well and I was out for the weekend in London with me fella and our mates. We'd booked tickets to see Thriller Live and I didn't realise that the time would mean we'd miss most of the match.

Having managed to watch the first half in the hotel we had to set out to get to the theatre but phone signals were shocking and I was struggling to keep up to speed with the score. I knew when I left we were 1-0 down but basically didn't know much else at all.

We'd joined the queue for the theatre behind a family and all I could do was wait and hope that eventually I got signal, but I never did. Then out of nowhere, the bloke in front pulled his phone out his pocket and said "ohh blady ell Daniel Sturridge has equalised in the last minute" (he was a Chelsea fan). I'm like "what?!" shouting get in and doing the Sturridge dance, this poor bloke must have hated me but I couldn't help it, even at that stage of the season, for me I knew how massive it was for us to continue to pick up points and that Sturridge goal was huge. Even better when I finally got to see it haha.

The Everton goal

It's December, it's a chilly one and I'm in The George Wallis in Wolverhampton, one of my favourite places to watch the footy. There's barely anyone in the pub today which is strange cause it's often rammed. Despite this, there is an Everton fan, a huge Everton fan, so much so that he blasted out Z-cars off his phone in the pub prior to kick off.

Fair enough I thought, this could be an interesting one. I didn't for one second think Everton would actually cause us any bother but they did! The game dragged on and on and on but Liverpool could not find the back of the net. This match at Anfield began to feel like a banana skin and I just didn't want to deal with the backlash from this now steadily drunk Evertonian in the pub.

But, in the 96th minute, out of absolutely nowhere, a spooned shot from Virgil van Dijk found its way towards goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Most players in a Red shirt had already turned back expecting the final whistle and an easy catch for the keeper but Pickford cocked it up and who was waiting? Divock Origi. I went absolutely crazy but not as crazy as the Everton fan he was shoving the table and chairs out the way, throwing the menus on the floor, hilarious!

Pickford's puzzled face was an absolute picture!

Spurs late win

It was Mother's Day and I'd moved out of the parent's house at this stage of the season so I popped round to Mom and Dad's to see me Mom and watch the match.

My poor old Mom was basically deafened by 90 minutes. At this stage against Spurs I truly felt like we simply had to keep winning, I knew realistically we'd still be dropping points but this game felt huge and when Moura cancelled out Firmino's goal after 70 minutes I just felt absolutely gutted.

I was sat on the edge of me Mom's sofa biting all my nails off just hoping and praying there would be another chance. At this stage we were piling the pressure on City and a another win would have been massive.

At 90 minutes it came, Liverpool sure know how to wreck your nerves. Salah headed towards goal after a great cross from Trent and while the goal went down as Alderweireld it was the Egyptian who caused all the havoc. I screamed my bloody head off, jumping round me Mom's living room absolutely elated. I don't think she'd expect anything less from me on Mother's Day to be fair! Haha.

The Barcelona masterclass

Unbelieveable. Still as I type this I cannot believe what Liverpool did that night. Those who know me and those who follow the blog will know that I'm ever the optimist and a very rose-tinted fan but not even I thought we could actually get through that night.

I genuinely thought we'd score and I knew we'd give it a bloody good go but I couldn't convince myself that Barcelona would fail to find the net, that's why it was so hard to take when Liverpool played so well at the Nou Camp but failed to get an away goal.

As I sat down in the Cleveland (another one of my favourite pubs to watch football in), I always sit in the same spot on the stage/dancefloor area right in front of the big drop down screen. I'd got my ciders ready and I'd had a belly full of pub grub, sod it I thought, if we go out let's go out with a bang.

Of course, what followed was simply stunning. After just seven minutes Divock Origi had scored for the Reds, without Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool were reliant on players who don't necessarily get the game time but Divock, as he has proved every time he's been called upon this season, was fully capable of finding the net.

I looked at the fella and sort of pulled a "here we go" face, we were still in dreamland at this point if we truly thought we could silence Barcelona but if we had any chance at all that early goal would help us massively.

The Reds, despite their efforts, then failed to find the net for the remainder of the first half. To add to this, Luis Suarez had also injured the influential Andy Robertson meaning Gini Wijnaldum had to take his place.

Barca were probably dead chuffed at this sub, Robbo had been creating issues for them all night. Little did they know the Dutchman had plans to break their hearts.

Gini scored twice within two minutes and I simply could not believe what I was watching. I screamed like I've never screamed before, I'd seen Liverpool pull off some stunning results but this was special. So special that I was practically crying at this point, my voice was breaking as I tried to speak to my brother on the phone who was watching elsewhere "I car (can't in yam-yam speak) believe it, I car believe this!" I kept saying.

Then came the icing on the cake, the ticket to Madrid, the final that Liverpool thoroughly deserved as Divock Origi found his second of the night and left the travelling Barca fans absolutely gobsmacked.

I will never forget that match and after the season Liverpool have had, I hope we end the season with number 6!

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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The Miracle Of Anfield

Liverpool are in the Champions League final. I've had to start this blog post with that sentence because I still can't quite believe it. Liverpool, a side who last week were written off by the footballing world, have overcome a 3-0 deficit to beat Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield in what is arguably the greatest comeback in the sport.

Image via The Express
Those who read my blogs or follow me on Twitter will know I'm quite a rose-tinted fan, I'm the one always searching for a positive or something to cling on to, even when the chips are down. On Tuesday though, not even I seriously thought we could do something about this semi-final. I held on to a glimmer of hope and kept saying "you never know" but I never truly thought we'd be able to prevent Barcelona from scoring and find the net on enough occasions to make Madrid.

The only way we could do it, if we were going to complete this miracle, was to find an early goal I knew that much. So we did, Divock Origi the absolute hero latched onto a ball splayed out from the Barca keeper after he attempted to save a Henderson shot. Divock netted after just seven minutes and Liverpool had immediately laid down their intentions on this match.

Anfield was absolutely buzzing, what I would have given to be there, the atmosphere on a European night at that ground is unrivalled on a night like Tuesday. Say what you want but no team wants to come to Anfield for a European game, not even Barca who are 3-0 up in a semi-final.

The early goal seemed to stun Barca, their players looked deflated instantly, despite the fact they still had a two-goal advantage and an away goal on their part could change everything. They'd rested all XI players in their last league match and had the likes of Messi and Suarez to call upon but we made the Spanish side look bang average.

Liverpool continued to play calmly in the first half, creating chances and raising the heartbeats of Kopites all over the globe, but it wouldn't be until nine minutes into the second half when the Reds found themselves a second. 

Gini Wijnaldum with a powerful shot in the centre of the box fizzed one home for the Reds having only just entered play. The Dutchman replaced Andy Robertson who picked up an injury during the first half.

Gini is one of those players that everybody loves but he's not really known for scoring goals. He changed that on Tuesday evening against one of the best teams in the world because just minutes later, he scored again.

A lovely cross from Shaqiri on the left was placed perfectly for Gini who rose with a powerful header to take the game to 3-0. Absolutely phenomenal. At this point I'm not afraid to admit, I was basically crying with joy. I could not believe what I was seeing. Over the years I've watched Liverpool pull off some astonishing results but surely to god we couldn't find our way to this year's Champions League final? Surely heartbreak was awaiting.

I tried to calm down, I was shaking like a leaf and was screaming, literally screaming like a child at every goal. This game was insane but even with the Reds now 3-0 up and shooting towards a raucous Kop End, it would only take a goal from Barcelona to spoil the party. Barcelona, one of the best teams in world football.

The thing was though, Barcelona were far from the Barcelona we know, as mentioned previously, even after the first goal they looked utterly deflated. At 3-0 it started to look like they'd ran out of ideas, the pressure of the Anfield atmosphere along with the high intensity of all of our lads was just too much for them to deal with, they didn't have a second to breathe or even think straight.

Then, a twenty-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold walked over to the corner, a scouser through and through, at Liverpool Football Club from the age of six. He drops the ball down in the corner, casually starts walking away as if Shaqiri's going to take it but he's spotted Divock, he knows he's free. A quick return to the corner flag sees him whip the ball into the Belgian who finishes perfectly in front of the Kop. Barcelona caught with their pants well and truly down.

At this stage I'd gone wild, I mean I was already pretty wild for the three previous goals but this was the point when I actually, truly thought we could be in that final in Madrid. The sheer audacity of Trent to even try that?! 

I watch most of our matches with me fella but as you all know he's a massive Wolves fan (bit awkward next week!!!) so while he enjoys watching Liverpool with me, he doesn't really care about results. For some reason I just resort to attacking him in these massive games. Jumping all around him, ruffing up his hair, punching him in the arm, slapping him on the legs hahaha it's the adrenaline, I have to release it somehow and he's just there or sometimes it's me brother haha!

I genuinely at points on Tuesday night felt like I was about to faint, what I was witnessing was so special and the reactions to each goal just got bigger and bigger and bigger. Just a phenomenal evening of football.

The final whistle about 15 minutes after Liverpool's fourth confirmed the fact that nobody could quite believe: Liverpool would be 2019 Champions League finalists.

I spent the majority of the following day at work in a daze with a Barry White tone to my voice from all the screaming. Even typing this now at 8:30pm on Wednesday evening, I still can't quite believe it but I am massively excited.

Whatever happens on Sunday now, we have a final in Europe to look forward to and I can't say that's something I was expecting.

The Miracle of Anfield.

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Monday, 6 May 2019

Liverpool's Last Six Games

So for the past six Liverpool games, I've pretty much been missing in action. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or read the blog regularly will know that I recently finally moved out of the parents and into a new flat with the fella. Shortly after that we went on a two week trip to Italy that's been planned for a long time and while we were away the fella proposed. Insane, in the very best way.

While finally being an adult is exciting and keeping me extremely occupied, I am quite sad that I'm finding less and less time to blog. Writing is something I've always enjoyed so I try to find time where possible even if it's just to help me relax.

Image via Liverpool Echo
So, something a bit different on the blog today, I wanted to get down some thoughts on our last six matches, four of which I watched in different cities and towns in Italy.

As we draw ever closer to the last match of the season I thought it would be nice to look back on our recent clashes.

Liverpool (2) v Chelsea (0) - Sunday 14th April - Location: Bologna

So we started our Italian trip in the city of Bologna. As a brief overview, for those wondering, I've always been obsessed with Italy since I was a little kid, my Mom bought me a fake Totti shirt off the market I think and from that day onwards my interest in Italian football begun. Quickly I realised that Italy was also a beautiful country with stunning food and drink too so it was a win-win for me!

Anyway, back to football. Bologna was a lovely place, even though it rained most of the first day. I managed to find a small Irish bar about a 15-minute walk from the hotel so we headed there early. We walked into a packed pub full of Bologna fans as they were playing Fiorentina away, the home fans had to settle for a 0-0.

After their match had finished the bar staff informed us that the Liverpool v Chelsea game was actually on downstairs. The TV was a lot smaller, there was no sound and I'd forgotten to bring my glasses, but hey, we were on and that's all that mattered.

The stand out from this match was that absolutely stunning Mo Salah goal, what a strike. After all of the build-up and circus in the media around the significance of Chelsea in our title race, the Gerrard slip etc, I was over the moon when Salah smashed that one in.

Porto (1) v Liverpool (4) - Wednesday 17th April - Location: Rome

After stopping in Florence and getting engaged... as yer do, we then travelled on to Rome which is where I would have to watch our Champions League tie. I found another Irish bar, this time a huge one with massive screens and surround sound.

The Magners flowed and Liverpool followed suit, a smooth game for the Reds who found four goals thanks to Mane, Salah, Firmino and van Dijk. Porto could only manage a consolation goal and the Reds had firmly secured their semi-final place against Barcelona.

I was buzzing in Rome, a karaoke followed with American tourists singing anything from Queen to early Miley Cyrus. A good night all round in the capital haha.

Cardiff (0) v Liverpool (2) - Sunday 21st April - Location: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast

The Cardiff game would prove a bit more of a challenge in terms of finding somewhere to watch it. Amalfi is a relatively small coastal town, an Irish bar wasn't available so I thought sod it, I'll log into Sky Go and have to make do with a phone screen.

About 20 minutes in and one of the waiters spotted we were watching something on a phone then asked if it was Liverpool, they'd managed to get the match on the big screen in the hotel.

A rare goal from Gini Wijnaldum was followed later on by a James Milner penalty. I must admit I was getting quite nervy at the start of this game, it had the feel of a banana skin but the Reds as they have done all season remained calm and got the job done.

Liverpool (5) v Huddersfield (0) - Friday 26th April - Location: Taormina, Sicily

This was the last day of our epic holiday around Italy and I was feeling quite sad about having to go home but Liverpool soon fixed that with a solid performance against Huddersfield.

This time I'd found a small sports bar in Taormina, I'd watched the United v City match in the same place a couple of nights before and it was a good atmosphere. Lazio and AC Milan were on two TVs in the Coppa Italia and the English football on the third TV.

Every match at this stage as a Liverpool fan, even if it is against doomed Huddersfield, makes you feel sick. Well it does for me anyway. I was delighted when Keita scored after just a minute as it settled the nerves. A brace from Mane and another brace from Salah followed and Liverpool had secured yet another three points.

Barcelona (3) v Liverpool (0) - Wednesday 1st May - Location: Sports pub on the outskirts of Wolverhampton

I'd been back at work for three days at this stage, already wanted to return to Italy, but the thought of a Champions League tie against the mighty Barcelona got me through that week.

I am quite a rose-tinted fan so I always think we have a chance in almost any game and it was no different for me as the Reds lined up at the Nou Camp.

We played so bloody well, so well. The scoreline does not fairly reflect the performance put in by the lads and we were enormously unlucky not to find an away goal. Salah's chance at the end was agonising to watch.

Newcastle (2) v Liverpool (3) - Saturday 4th May - Location: My fave pub in Woverhampton city centre

Now, call me an idiot, but for some reason, I thought it was a great idea to go and watch our Newcastle match straight after the Wolves game to meet the fella. I didn't take into account that the pub would obviously be rammed, or that a DJ would be on the go...

Anyway, it was a good laugh the Wolves lot were in high spirits and as long as I could see our match on the big screen I was happy. 

Virgil scores after 13 minutes and I'm up on my feet, mainly because he'd also won me some money for scoring first and at any time during the match. At which point some Wolves wench came over asked me if I was a Liverpool fan (na love I just jumped up out me seat cause I fancy Virgil van Dijk.......) once she'd confirmed I was a Liverpool fan she started calling me a wanker... charming. You travel the whole of Italy watching your club with different fans and different people and nobody says sod all, I come back to Wolverhampton and one of my own yam yams calls me a wanker good times.

Back to the football and Newcastle equalise, much to the hilarity of some people in the pub, meanwhile, I'm fuming. Mo Salah scores and I'm up again, mainly in relief at this point. Little did I know things would get even more tricky for Liverpool.

Rondon isn't in my fantasy team for nothing and he punished Liverpool at 54 minutes on Saturday night. I just couldn't believe it, there was still plenty of time left but Newcastle looked strong, so much for Rafa doing us a favour!

The clock ticked on, Salah was stretchered off and things just began to look very gloomy for the Reds. I just kept thinking we can't make it this far and then fall at the penultimate hurdle, we deserved to at least be in with a shout on the last day of the season.

Then, the absolute hero that is Divock Origi popped up with another massive, massive goal for Liverpool. A header from a free-kick whipped in by Shaqiri gave the Reds the win. Several ciders down by now I went absolutely mad in the pub, screaming my bloody head off, if any were in doubt, Wolves fans in the pub knew clearly who I supported now.

And there we have it, it's now late on Sunday evening, no work tomorrow as it's Bank Holiday Monday and as I type all I can think about is Jamie Vardy. Please god Leicester just nick a draw will you?!

Whatever happens over the final two matches of the season for Liverpool I am immensely proud of our team. We may fall at the hands of Barcelona but it's not through a lack of trying and if we fail to win the league on 94, 95 or 97 points that's just unprecedented.

Enjoy the end of the season folks, wherever you are watching!

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