The Liver Bird  

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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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

All To Play For In Germany

A somewhat frustrating night at Anfield for Liverpool as the Reds could only manage a 0-0 draw against Bayern in their first leg of the last 16 in the Champions League. 

A 0-0 draw, to be honest, is not a bad result but there was a general consensus that Liverpool may be able to get the better of the German side on their home turf. 

Image via The Independent
The first half was a brilliant game to watch, especially for the neutral with both teams creating issues. One moment that stands out in particular though is a save from Alisson that he knew nothing about. A bit of luck came Liverpool's way after a melee in the box and a risky clearance from Joel Matip nearly ended in a goal for Bayern, thankfully Alisson's body was in the way and the match remained level. 

Alisson is a brilliant keeper but I still feel sometimes he's far too risky with the ball at his feet. His distribution often invites unwanted pressure and while nine times out of ten it's fine, I can't deal with the stress!

Klopp had to start this game without influential defender Virgil van Dijk but to be fair to the Reds, aside from that freak mistake early on, defensively they played really well. Fabinho had a cracking game and on several occasions put in some beautifully timed tackles to stop dead a dangerous attack. 

Another player who deserves a mention is Jordan Henderson, he gets a lot of flack but people don't talk enough when he puts in a stormer. He was brilliant last night, played more positively with his passing and also got us out of a few scrapes when tracking back. 

Attack wise, Liverpool did have their chances but we just couldn't quite make it count. I love Mane but I have to admit that he scuppered a couple of good opportunities on Tuesday night. Firmino for me started lively but seemed to fade and as always we didn't seem to capitalise much on any set pieces. 

Nevertheless, the tie is at 0-0, an early away goal in Germany could be massive for Liverpool. Equally, even if Bayern score first they'd still need to find a second goal in quick succession really to feel comfortable. It's going to be an interesting European away trip for Klopp's side that's for sure. 

Next up for the Reds is the small matter of Manchester United... This game is huge in any season but even more so this year.

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Monday, 3 December 2018

REPORT: Liverpool 1 Everton 0

I've seen some Merseyside derbies in my time but that could quite possibly be my favourite ending ever, you just couldn't make it up! After a battle between the two sides over 90 minutes it was the forgotten Divock Origi who found himself in the right place at the right time to take all three points for Liverpool. 

I have to hand it to the Toffees they look a far stronger side under Marco Silva and they held their own at Anfield for the majority of the match. Liverpool have improved vastly in defence compared to last season and that showed when Alisson was forced into a close-range reaction save, stopping Andre Gomes' header. The danger wasn't quite clear but Joe Gomez's quick thinking ensured the Reds cleared it off the line. 

Image via Sky Sports
Annoyingly for Liverpool, while their defence is ten times better their attack seems to have gone a bit quiet over recent weeks and for me, this isn't necessarily to do with the forward players. I'm not sure what other people's opinions are but for me, it feels like the link between defence and midfield and midfield to attack is somewhat lacking at the moment. There's a lot more side or back passing and no real cutting edge balls through, this was also the case when Henderson was on against PSG so I'm not really singling out players, just the midfield as a whole feels like it could click more. 

Don't get me wrong players like Fabinho for me are proving their worth, he did very well breaking up play on Sunday but I just think we need a midfield that is more positive with the passing. I feel like that improved slightly once Keita came on. 

The Reds had some chances, mainly half ones and mainly from Sadio Mane but it never quite felt like we would actually win this match. I was preparing myself for a draw and the pain in seeing us go further behind Man City but a free kick in the dying moments would change all that. 

Due to be taken by Trent I am sure Virgil was shouting up the pitch asking Alisson to take it. The keeper ran to the free kick spot and rolled it forward to Trent who then flung it into the box. Sat in the pub next to an Everton fan who was screaming for the whistle all I kept thinking was surely we can't score here, surely it's over. 

A header found its way out to Virgil van Dijk who absolutely spooned his effort to get the ball back into the box but the height on his miss hit meant Jordan Pickford would have to make a decision. As the ball came crashing down onto the bar, Pickford appeared to try and catch it instead of turning it over the bar for a corner. Meanwhile, Divock Origi was already in position and as the ball fell on the right side of goal the Belgian headed home to win the Merseyside Derby in the 96th minute. Absolutely crazy!

I was screaming my head off, of all the people to score the winner it's Origi, nobody's seen him for about two years apart from the odd cameo. What a man. 

Did we deserve to win? No, but the fact is, you play to the end and if your chance arises ensure you take it. 

Klopp running on the pitch was absolutely hilarious people having a go can say all they want. He didn't jump in Silva's face he ran to his keeper. It's a natural reaction in a game that already means so much let alone when the three points means your side remains latched on to a title race. 

All I keep thinking is Man City must be well pissed off. Hahaha. 

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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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Saturday, 25 August 2018

3 Games, 3 Clean Sheets, 3 Wins: Five Things We Learned


1) We can win ugly

For me, the main thing we should take away from today's victory over Brighton is the fact that Liverpool are now a team that can "win ugly". It's a phrase that's been thrown around regularly for teams such as Manchester United or Chelsea, teams who are always in the mix at the top of the table and seem to have that annoying ability to see out a result despite playing terribly.

I wouldn't go as far to say Liverpool were terrible on Saturday, far from it, but the Reds were definitely below par. For me though, instead of being a negative, this is actually extremely encouraging. Similar to the Palace result, the Reds were able to hold on to a slim lead and convert it into an all-important three points. 

Brighton were always going to be a difficult side to play against because the Reds have always struggled under Klopp against organised teams. This season however, Klopp seems to have found the key to unlock the points in these tight situations and I for one take that as a massive, massive positive.

2) Salah's slow start?

Some on social media, would you believe it, have been suggesting that Salah is having a slow start or that he doesn't quite look himself. I think some people are just getting very nervous that he won't be able to live up to the previous season but people need to calm the hell down.

Salah netted again today and while some of his shots and passes were slightly questionable, on the whole, he has already had a huge impact on the first three games of the season. Let's not forget that he also started slowly in his first season. I'm not worried.

3) Alisson has the skills

Alisson made a sublime save late on to ensure the Reds secured all three points. As mentioned in a previous post one of my key phrases this season is "strikers win you matches, goalkeepers win you titles" and I truly hope that the introduction of Alisson can help us meet that mantra.

Embed from Getty Images

However, he does seem to like to take on outfield players haha! Both sides of this were displayed against Brighton, on the one hand, the piece of skill chipping the ball to remove the danger from the striker outside his box was mesmerising but on the other hand, coming out to tackle a player outside of the box with your feet and completely missing? Not so great haha.

It reminds me a bit of Pepe Reina, I still laugh my head off now whenever I see the infamous Robben clip. Importantly though, this kind of behaviour from a goalkeeper only happens if the shot-stopper is confident and Alisson simply oozes confidence. I just think he may need to tone down his out of the box antics.

4) Clean sheets are no longer a pipe dream

On the back of another solid defensive performance and thanks to a great save, Liverpool have yet another clean sheet, their third of the season. Clean sheets used to be something Kopites could only dream of, we'd still win a lot of matches but we'd win by scoring more. A lot of 2-1s or 3-2s etc and that's fine but again, if you want to be serious about contending for a title, clean sheets can make all the difference.

The partnership of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez worked brilliantly again today against Brighton.

5) Gerrard's influence remains?

Steven Gerrard may currently be managing Rangers but his influence and style can still be seen around Anfield. Trent Alexander-Arnold made me double take this afternoon when the youngster performed a pin perfect long range pass diagonally across the field.

It was stunning, very Gerrard-esque. He was also unlucky with a free-kick earlier in the game as it smashed off the bar. 

I'm sure Steven would be proud.

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Sunday, 22 July 2018

Manninger, Alisson, Philippe sold: A tale of the Liverpool transfer window.


Beautiful South anyone? 

The Yorkshire band may have a point in the lyrics of Song for Whoever... "I forget your name." That phrase could easily be applied to several mind-boggling Liverpool transfers of the recent past, but not this year!

Gone are the days where the Reds would offer a short-term contract to an ageing Austrian goalkeeper (Manninger). In are the days where Liverpool break the world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper (Alisson) and in are the days where L4 completes shrewd business allowing star players to leave but for a considerable profit (Philippe Coutinho).

It wasn't that long ago when Kopites up and down the country were sat in front of the blinding Sky Sports yellow ticker tape, reading the breaking news that the Reds had spent £35 million on Andy Carroll.

In recent years, transfer windows for Liverpool fans have been something to fear, not look forward to. A sense of panic would always arise leading to inflated prices, the purchase of players in positions we don't need to strengthen and countless commentary from Rafael Benitez arguing for more in his kitty from previous American owners Hicks and Gillett. Horror filled times. 

Reds fans should fear no more though, the promotion of Michael Edwards to Sporting Director has brought with it some stunning signings and some key contract extensions. The likes of Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino have both recently put pen to paper to reinstate their commitment to the club and Edwards has also overseen big-ticket moves such as the £75 million signing of Virgin van Dijk and securing Naby Keita.

The price tags may well be rising, the Reds have just purchased the most expensive goalkeeper football has ever seen but that's what you need to do to compete. In seasons gone by Alisson would not even be on Liverpool's radar. Not only would the Reds struggle to entice such a name due to the lack of funds, they were also out of the Champions League and lacking in other star names to help convince any targets to come to the club.

Liverpool is a huge draw for many footballers but the history of the club can only act as an incentive to a certain extent. For many, no Champions League football and no top-drawer players pushing the team towards silverware means no deal.

For years, all we had as Reds was Steven Gerrard. The amount of stories you read about Steve's influence in signing players, his autobiography stresses several times where Brendan Rodgers would ask him to call up prospective players to try and convince them to come to the club.

Now we have Mo Salah dropping Alisson a cheeky text. 

I completed a quiz earlier this week where you had to name Liverpool's top 50 most expensive signings (I didn't get all the 50 let's put it that way). At the end of the quiz when all of the answers were populated I found myself both in shock at some of the signings but also pleasantly surprised with others.

Liverpool could argue that despite some poor transfer windows recently, they have also nabbed some absolute bargains. Fernando Torres cost the club £26.5 million, Luis Suarez cost just £22.8 million. Henderson £16 million, Philippe Coutinho just £8.5 million, some cracking deals I am sure you will agree.

On the other hand, the Reds have also wasted stacks of cash on underperformers; Christian Benteke cost £32.5 million, Alberto Aquilani (remember him?!) cost us £20 million and we paid £10.5 million for Fabio Borini.

We've come a long way from some of the terrible overpriced decisions but vitally, we need to make this count. The Reds have purchased some big names this window and while the pressure is on for these signings, they should be able to slot into Jurgen Klopp's side with ease. 

Klopp's teams press and attack relentlessly, adding the likes of Fabinho, Shaqiri and Keita into the mix is extremely interesting. On top of this, a young and hungry goalkeeper, eager to impress should add some much-needed balance at the back and I still believe that the introduction of VVD has massively aided Dejan Lovren's all-around performance. It's an exciting time to be a Liverpool fan.

Talk of Fekir and questions raised about purchasing another defender could possibly still be answered during this window but whatever happens, I don't think anybody can query the intent this year.

The ambition of the club is clear for all to see and I am just praying that this year, it could be ours.

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