The Liver Bird  

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Five Things To Note From The Arsenal Win

1) Mo Salah is here to stay

A header from Joel Matip opened up the scoring for Liverpool on Saturday evening in their 3-1 win over Arsenal but it was Mo Salah who would go on to grab the headlines. A blatant shirt pull by David Luiz meant the Egyptian was awarded a penalty (which he converted with ease) but it was his second goal of the game that was really special.

Image via The Guardian

David Luiz had an absolute mare and Salah not only gained the penalty off him but left him for dead on his route towards goal meaning the ex-Chelsea man could only look on in desperation as the forward scored with a low finish.

Some like to question whether Mo can keep at the level he has been playing in previous seasons but I have no doubt he'll be up there fighting for top goalscorer again in 2019/2020.

2) Virgil van Dijk is going to be under a microscope this season

I don't know if anybody else has noticed this but from about five minutes into the Norwich game it appears that all commentators are now on van Dijk's case. They've had enough of the world class, Champions League winning defender and now want to try and pick faults at any moment.

Gary Neville today wasted no time having a dig at van Dijk simply because on a couple of occasions the Dutchman decided to give Pepe a bit more freedom, but he still had things under control. It's already winding me up this and there's a whole season to go yet.

3) Adrian unlucky

It was frustrating to see Adrian's reaction upon conceding late on in the game, an early mistake when he should have left Virgil to deal with the situation nearly ended in a goal for Arsenal but on the whole, I thought Adrian did quite well. He was unlucky to concede after a bit of a mis-hit by Torreira eventually turned into a goal.

It must be extremely tough for the sub keeper as he's barely had anytime really to settle in with the squad and get used to how his defence will play things in certain situations. For me, as much as I'm 100% behind Adrian we definitely need Alisson back sooner rather than later.

4) VAR nonsense

It's no secret that I'm very much in the sack VAR off camp, I know opinions on this are as split as who likes Marmite but that red card decision early on was absolute nonsense. Nobody in the ground had a clue what it was for or even if it was related to an Arsenal or a Liverpool player. There's no screen at Anfield but even on the screens at home, we're sat watching a cut out of the referee next to a replay of a situation on a purple VAR background with zero information as to what is being checked. Martin Tyler didn't have a pissin clue what was going on. I still don't even actually know what happened... absolute joke.

5) This team is solid

It was always going to be hard for Liverpool to hit the ground running, especially after a dodgy pre-season and with the pressure of entering this year as Champions League winners but the Reds have looked very strong so far.

Norwich and Southampton you could argue weren't a full test for Klopp's side but they made Arsenal look pretty average today. It's evident how happy the team is together and the link-up play between the front three is just awesome. I am so excited for the rest of this season, this team is solid.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Three Times Liverpool V Arsenal Was Awesome For The Neutral

It's funny, when you ask people to name classic football matches and rivalries not many people come up with Liverpool v Arsenal. In my opinion, this has thrown up some of the most exciting league fixtures of recent times.

The game often has lots of goals and although there have been times when the match has felt one-sided (see Liverpool 5 Arsenal 1, December 2018) on the whole it makes for an evenly pitched clash and I for one am looking forward to Saturday's game.

So for this post, I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane and look back on some of the close ties between the two sides.

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 3 - Friday 22nd December 2017

A cold December evening three days before Christmas saw the two sides line up with Liverpool in 4th place. The Reds needed at least a draw to remain in that position.

It was a great start for Liverpool who opened up the scoring with a rare header from Coutinho after 26 minutes. Mo Salah then went on to score early in the second half with a deflected strike. Things looked comfortable for Klopp until the Reds failed to deal with a cross from Bellerin. His effort was met by Alexis Sanchez who headed home Arsenal's first of three in six minutes.

Image via Sky Sports

Just three minutes later the Gunners had found a second thanks to a strike from Xhaka, Mignolet attempted to save but couldn't get enough on it. The Reds were well and truly under pressure now and with barely a chance to regroup, two minutes later Arsenal had scored again this time thanks to Ozil.

Liverpool looked dumbfounded but the neutrals watching across the country were chuffed this match had been the Friday night selection. It was a crazy game of football and it wasn't done yet.

Never a side to throw in the towel, Klopp's team eventually found an equaliser to keep themselves in 4th. Bobby Firmino's powerful strike was enough to beat Petr Cech and collect a draw.

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4 - Sunday 14th August 2016

The opening encounter of the 2016/2017 Premier League season and what a belter it was. It took 30 minutes for the first goal to go in after Theo Walcott found the net for Arsenal (after missing a penalty just moments earlier) but from there on out it was goals galore.

Image via The Independent

A lovely free-kick from Coutinho gifted Liverpool an equaliser just before half time and Adam Lallana found the net to put the Reds 2-1 up after 49 minutes. Seven minutes later Coutinho scored again to increase Liverpool's lead and this was closely followed by a strong strike from Sadio Mane.

Things were looking great for the Reds but one minute later, future Liverpool starlet Oxlade-Chamberlain would score for Arsene Wenger's side. Arsenal were starting to gain momentum but despite finding another goal thanks to Chambers at 75 minutes it wasn't enough to earn them any points and on this occasion, Liverpool would walk away victorious.

Liverpool 3 Arsenal 3 - Wednesday 13th January 2016

Liverpool... and Arsenal... loads of goals? Who'd of thought it?

Yep, the two sides were at it again back in January 2016. Bobby Firmino opened up the scoring very early on for the Reds but saw his goal cancelled out when Ramsey found an equaliser.

Clearly not happy with this our Brazilian forward then scored a stunning goal from 20 yards to put Liverpool back in the lead. It was a wet and miserable January evening and neither side wanted to lose this game, Arsenal also had one eye on the title at this stage of the season.

Image via Football 365
Giroud who was influential for Arsenal then went on to score once in the first half and once in the second, Arsenal remained in front for the majority of the second half. That was until a Welsh substitute entered play.

Joe Allen was brought on for Emre Can at 82 minutes, perhaps not the most likely goalscorer, Joe converted a low drive on the stroke of 90 minutes to grab Liverpool a point and dent Arsenal's title hopes.

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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Adrian Saves Final Peno To Gift Reds The Super Cup

Well, that was a bit of a slog wasn't it? The Reds seem to love taking the long way round but after 120 minutes and ten penalties, Liverpool finally lifted the Super Cup after Adrian saved Abraham's spot kick.

It was written in the stars really, Adrian joins the club a week earlier, enters play in Liverpool's first Premier League match after an injury to the mighty Alisson, faces massive boots to fill but then basically wins us the Super Cup. Just brilliant. I'd tweeted at half time having a little moan at the keeper about his distribution but in fairness, I wasn't calling his saves into question and he made some important stops in the game including his penalty save.

Image via standard.co.uk

The Spaniard ended up featuring in several talking points during the match including during the second half when Chelsea were awarded a penalty. Jorginho converted and at that stage had drawn Chelsea level at 2-2 but I'm still not sure it even was a penalty. The match was reffed by female officials which was absolutely fantastic to see and I don't think it was a decision that any referee could have called at the time as it was so close, even Adrian didn't seem certain whether he'd touched the player or not.

By some standards, the Reds were lucky to even reach extra time as Frank Lampard's Chelsea side played very well for the duration of the 90 and held their nerve in time added on. The first 45 minutes for Liverpool was very sloppy, neither side found the net but it was Chelsea who looked far more likely, several through balls were catching Liverpool completely off guard and the Reds were lucky to keep the clean sheet.

For me, the midfield was just unbalanced and Oxlade-Chamberlain was extremely quiet. Add to this Fabinho who was losing a lot of possession and making mistakes and it was very difficult for Klopp's side to get hold of the ball. Luckily Fab did seem to pick up as the game went on. Chelsea found their opener thanks to Giroud after 36 minutes, the Frenchman had already caused several problems for the Liverpool defence early in the game.

By half time I was asking for the introduction of Gini to settle the midfield and I also tweeted that to win this match we'd need Bobby on. Bobby entered play immediately in the second half and instantly made an impact after setting up Sadio Mane. For a man who apparently still needs rest, the Senegalese forward looked very lively and went on to score Liverpool's second with a fantastic strike in extra time.

It was a valiant effort from the Reds who were playing in a somewhat mis-matched XI but as always battled until the very end. This team are going to be very difficult to beat this season, very difficult and once again we have proven even when we're not at our best we're a tough side to beat.

I just hope that we can use this now as another boost for the league, the missing Alisson is definitely not ideal but Adrian will feel on top of the world after tonight and here's hoping he can look after the gloves until the Brazilian returns.

Liverpool: Super Cup Winners 2019.

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Saturday, 10 August 2019

Alisson Injured In Norwich Win

Liverpool made a solid start to their 2019/2020 Premier League campaign on Friday night as they opened up the season with a 4-1 win over Norwich. An own goal began proceedings but goals from Salah, van Dijk and Origi quickly followed in the first half. The Liverpool supporting Norwich forward Pukki did find a consolation in the second half but despite a valiant effort from the away side, they could only find the one goal.

Image via sports.yahoo.com

The big news from Liverpool's perspective, aside from the emphatic win, was the injury to goalkeeper Alisson Becker. The golden glove winner went down after taking a goal kick in the first half, appearing to clutch his calf. Second choice keeper Adrian who only arrived at the club this week looked shocked that his chance to play in front of the Kop had already arrived and he received a rapturous welcome from the Anfield faithful.

Divock Origi's cross was turned into the net by Norwich's Hanley after just seven minutes and despite a bright start from the visitors, this moment did somewhat take the wind out of their sails. Klopp's side capitalised and Mo Salah found the net with a lovely angled finish, followed closely by a classic Virgil van Dijk header. Origi scored the fourth and final goal for the Reds who entered the second half with the same tempo but couldn't find the net again.

Pukki's goal was deserved for Norwich who had stuck to the football that had served them so well in the Championship. Scoring bags of goals but also conceding a lot too on their way to the Premier League, it could have been easy for the Norwich manager to attempt to play tactically but they didn't. The Canaries came to Anfield and attacked, which is more than you can say for most teams, so full credit to them.

After the Reds threw down the gauntlet, all eyes were on rivals Manchester City. Many have predicted that this season will once again be a two-horse race and Pep Guardiola's team certainly responded. A 5-0 victory over West Ham, with a load of VAR coverage thrown in, provided the Sky Blues with an immediate response to Liverpool's result.

A win produced an almost perfect start for the Reds but the Alisson injury news has added a bit of a downer. The latest seems to be that the Brazilian could be out for up to 4-8 weeks, Liverpool are apparently looking at signing Lonergan on a free transfer to play the second keeper to the promoted Adrian as our third choice keeper Kelleher has a broken wrist...

I mean what are the chances of your star goalkeeper getting a pretty bad injury on the opening day of the season? I'm not usually a downbeat person and would usually be the one saying all sorts of positive things here but I genuinely am concerned by this, Alisson is such a huge factor in our attempts to chase that elusive Premier League title.

Adrian is a top keeper and with van Dijk in front of him I don't doubt that he can assist the Reds in their hour of need but I am praying that Alisson's injury resolves itself as soon as possible.

Next up for the Reds is Chelsea in the Super Cup.

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Thursday, 8 August 2019

Reds Open The Premier League Season Against Norwich

So, we didn't sign anyone... shocker. Can people just get over it now in time for kick-off on Friday? Yes, we could have done with a couple of extra players but this team is quality and the bench looks stronger with the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain, plus I feel Brewster will get more of a chance this year. Let's look at the positives eh? Six times European Cup winners entering another Premier League season under Jurgen Klopp, it doesn't get better than that.

On paper, the Reds should be standout winners on Friday night but Norwich are no mugs and too often the "big teams" underestimate promoted sides. Especially on the first day of the season when you haven't really had chance to assess their plans for the league they have just entered.

Image via premierleague.com

For Liverpool, Sadio Mane returns which is fantastic news and James Milner is also available after recovering from a muscle problem. Norwich have a few injuries to contend with including defender Timm Klose. A familiar face who may appear for Norwich is Patrick Roberts who is on loan from Manchester City.

Norwich City manager Daniel Farke has had very kind words to say about Liverpool, in a recent interview he explained: "I had a little smile when I saw our first game is against Liverpool. For me, they might be the best team in the world right now."

In years gone by I would say that was an exaggeration but the Norwich manager has a point, Liverpool were phenomenal last season and will be desperate to go one better this time out. As Norwich enter the Anfield fortress it's good to know the Reds are unbeaten in their last 40 league matches at L4.

The last time the two sides met was that ridiculous match in 2016 which Liverpool eventually won 5-4. I watched highlights of that game on YouTube recently and it's easily one of the craziest games I've ever seen. Klopp will be hoping there isn't a repeat of that although I'm sure he'd take the points!

The last meeting at Anfield between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw and in the last five games at Anfield Liverpool have won on three occasions.

Enjoy the match folks, I will hopefully be back with a match report/opinion piece. I'm still toying with getting back into blogging more regularly at the moment and to be honest I don't think you'll see as many match previews as I used to do because I feel my writing is better post match/on a specific topic. This season I'm going to try to do more general opinion pieces I think and less previews but we'll see how it goes. Enjoy your Friday night all, up the Reds!

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Sunday, 4 August 2019

Five Things We Learned From The Community Shield

Don't tell me that was a "friendly", both teams desperately wanted to win the Community Shield on Sunday afternoon and while I'll definitely get over the fact that Liverpool lost on penalties I can't be doing with people pretending to not be arsed.

Image via mirror.co.uk

I was massively invested in that game and so too was Pep Guardiola apparently after he got a yellow card for literally kicking off at the fourth official. Add to that an acrobatic goal-line clearance from Kyle Walker and it is clear Man City were desperate to prevent us getting the first silverware of the season and vice versa.

So what did we learn from the loss?

1) There's still nothing really separating these teams

The first half was a bit of a slow burner for Liverpool and City looked a lot stronger, opening with a goal from Raheem Sterling after our defence for once looked completely out of sync. The Reds though quickly settled into the game and in the second half, it was Klopp's side piling on the pressure.

It may well be a "friendly" in some people's eyes but both managers fielded very strong teams on Sunday and once again there was all but nothing splitting the class of the two sides. A Gini Wijnaldum penalty saved by keeper Bravo was the only difference.

2) Reds missed Mane

Mane is still to return to the Liverpool side after reaching the AFCON final with Senegal and it was clear on Sunday the Reds missed his influence in the front three, particular in the first half I felt where Mane's directness would have been much appreciated.

Mane has been my favourite Liverpool player for a long time now and it's such a comfort knowing that the Reds played extremely well in this Community Shield fixture yet still have Mane to call upon. As joint top scorer last season I can once again see him having a massive influence this year.

3) Defensive goal

Image via telegraph.co.uk

Who needs Mo Salah and Bobby Firmino when you can have a nice tasty link up from your centre backs? Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip teamed up to score Liverpool's equaliser and Matip looked elated to get Liverpool off the mark this season.

Virgil, as we all know, was phenomenal last year but Matip is often overlooked. He really made an impact when injuries gave him an opportunity last season and although Joe Gomez is a quality defender I don't personally think he should automatically have the right to re-enter the team. Joel played very well on Sunday and for me, he'd be in my back four against Norwich.

4) Bobby and Mo look sharp

There's always a worry, especially after a slow pre-season and players having to take extended breaks that the quality may not immediately return in time for the season start. Match fitness and sharpness can take a long time to rebuild but on Sunday despite a couple of missed chances, it was clear that Firmino and Salah are ready to pick up where they left off.

The forwards both look raring to go for the Reds and as mentioned earlier, throw Mane into that mix and once again Liverpool are a force to be reckoned with up front.

5) The bench is looking strong

It's quite clear that Liverpool will not be spending this transfer window but I think sometimes we forget that our bench is actually pretty strong. The return of Oxlade-Chamberlain offers a great option for Jurgen Klopp and Shaqiri for me is a brilliant player to have at your disposal.

Naby Keita made an impact when entering play today and while I can't say he's my favourite of the bunch, so too did Adam Lallana. I take the point that if we get a couple of injuries we could be in a bit of a tricky situation but away from that Liverpool have a strong squad going into this 2019/2020 season.

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Thursday, 1 August 2019

Community Shield: Does it matter for Liverpool?

We're back! Finally, we can stop scrolling through hundreds of tweets from disgruntled fans shouting doom after losing a few pre-season matches without any of our star players.

Liverpool open their 2019/2020 season on Sunday as the Reds face Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in the Community Shield but does this piece of silverware really matter?

Image via eurosport.com

The Community Shield has always been a bit of a joke trophy for most fans, a curtain opener that nobody really cares about but this year for Liverpool fans, it feels different. Klopp's side pushed CIty agonisingly close in the Premier League and the bookies are once again predicting a two-horse race for this season. While the Community Shield remains a one-off match and one that could well feature two very weakened teams, a win here for Liverpool feels more important than it should be.

I know I joked initially about the moaning surrounding Liverpool's pre-season but if we're honest, it hasn't been great has it? The win over Lyon last night has hopefully brought back some confidence but a win against Manchester City on Sunday would further bolster that in my opinion.

Liverpool simply must hit the ground running in this 2019/2020 campaign. To hold any chance of going as close as we did last year or even better, winning that elusive Premier League title, we must start positively. For me, lifting the Community Shield and along the way providing some much-needed game time for the likes of Firmino, Salah and Mane could be the way to do it.

Will they feature?

It's hard to know whether Jurgen Klopp will include Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Bobby Firmino in his plans for Sunday. A lot of it will rest on the science and the fitness levels/sharpness of the three lads who have had a significantly shorter rest period than most.

In Klopp's interviews, he sounds as though he's taking this fixture very seriously, to him silverware is silverware and he wants his side to win as much of it as possible.

I would expect to at least see one of the three feature on Sunday although in theory, if Klopp needs his star men to get the game time he may well grasp this chance to play all three of the lads prior to the Norwich fixture.

When is a signing not a signing?

When they're 16 apparently. 

Another thing a lot of fans have been venting about is the lack of signings from Liverpool this transfer window and while I totally understand the frustration, the overreaction is unbelievable. We were never going to spend big this summer and for me, the Reds targeting youngsters who have reportedly had the likes of PSG and Real Madrid sniffing around them can only be a good thing.

Image via skysports.com

Harvey Elliott the 16-year-old signed from Fulham apparently looked lively in the Lyon match last night and I can see him potentially featuring in the League Cup for the Reds. It's also great to see the club gaining the signature of Sepp van den Berg the 17-year-old centre back.

Game on

I for one cannot wait for Sunday, I don't think I've ever been so excited for a Community Shield match in all my life, in fact, I know I haven't. 

I tend to be the sort of fan that switches off a bit during pre-season, I'll keep up to speed with what's happening usually via Twitter or podcasts but I won't religiously watch the games. I think it's partly because I enjoy a bit of a break but also because I like to keep the season start exciting, I don't want to know how fresh everybody is I want to see what happens when it really matters.

My brand new Virgil van Dijk shirt is hanging up ready to go. So enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

P.s.

As regular readers may have noticed my blogging efforts dipped dramatically last season, I just was failing really badly to find enough time to blog and I lost a bit of love for it. However, I've quickly realised that while my little blogging space here doesn't get masses of attention and I may not ever have the time to truly grow this to where I'd like it to be, blogging and writing remains a huge release for me personally. 

It's always been a real passion of mine so I'm going to make a conscious effort this year to blog more and offer more opinion. Please stay tuned to The Liver Bird and if you have any helpful tips about blogging in general or any LFC topics you'd like me to cover, drop me a tweet! - @LFCKirstyLFC

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