The Liver Bird  

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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Saturday, 6 January 2018

Van Dijk Knocks Everton Out The Cup

Unbelievable. That man is worth every penny of that £75 million for the header alone. Absolutely brilliant, Everton at one stage actually thought they were on for a win at Anfield...

van Dijk goal Everton
Image via The Guardian
In a Merseyside derby filled with questionable refereeing decisions, controversial incidents and eventually goals, it was Liverpool who ended the game victorious and Klopp's side progress safely to the next stage of the FA Cup.

The manager started a strong side but notably missing were Mo Salah and Philippe Coutinho, the former had just returned from receiving his African Player of the Year award in Ghana while the latter as I write this has just agreed a £142 million deal with Barcelona... sad times.

Everton, predictably started the game in true Allardyce fashion, set up to protect and try to nick something on the break. Liverpool, on the other hand, retained a lot of possession in the first half but didn't actually create anything with it until a penalty was awarded on 35 minutes.

James Milner converted the spot kick, calmly as ever, but was it even a penalty in the first place? When I first saw it I definitely felt as though we were lucky to receive the decision, it looked very soft. However, what you have to ask yourself too is, was Holgate impeding Lallana? I think he was, I think he prevented Lallana's turn to continue his run with the ball and therefore, hindered his attack illegally. Despite this, I still think Lallana went down very theatrically. With the benefit of replays and angles, I believe it was a penalty but I can see why it wouldn't have been given.

Shortly after the spot-kick, Everton's Holgate let the red mist descend and pushed Firmino with both hands over the advertising hoardings and into the crowd, for no reason whatsoever. Firmino, rightly disgruntled at the situation, ran fuming back to Holgate and clearly an exchange of words occurred. I have no idea what was said and wouldn't want to speculate but it truly baffles me that all on-air analysis and a lot of social media analysis was focused on the argument and what may or may not have been said. Not on Holgate's ridiculous act to force Firmino off the pitch.

Not long after the hour mark, Everton found themselves an equaliser, with the Reds caught completely off guard, an impressive break involving Jagielka surprisingly, allowed Sigurdsson to find the back of the net.

After a brave decision to take Wayne Rooney off (obviously they didn't want to give us the satisfaction of watching him get a red) I didn't actually think the Toffees had enough left in the tank to find a goal. A period of improved pressure from the blue shirts though was enough to get them right back into the tie. Liverpool had to find a winner from somewhere, a replay would not be helpful with the number of fixtures already played and ones coming up in Europe.

Step up Virgil van Dijk, the man from Southampton, so highly sought after for his defensive abilities and what does he do? Net the winner with a leap like no other against Everton to knock them out of the FA Cup in the 84th minute. Brilliant.

You couldn't write it as they say unless you're Danny Murphy who predicted exactly that on the BBC prior to KO. It was a solid performance from the defender and the goal was simply the icing on the cake, I still hold my reservations but if you start your career at Anfield like that, you've got to be on to a good one?!

Finally, I would like to highlight the performance of Andy Robertson. When Klopp bought him, I can't say I was massively excited but I was definitely keen to see him play, it became frustrating when Alberto Moreno continued to be selected in his place and it's a real shame in my opinion that it took an injury to the Spaniard for Robertson to get more regular game time.

People argue that Moreno had improved and deserved to keep his place but I tried the whole giving Moreno a chance a while back, I stuck by him whilst others had already given up but for me, he's just not a defender. Show me a reel of perfectly timed tackles from Moreno like the ones Robertson completed last night? On top of that, the lad has got a killer cross and is also extremely impressive on the attack. He was all over Bolasie yesterday and showed an impeccable understanding of the game, I for one can't wait to see more of him.

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Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Report: Liverpool 5 Swansea 0

Liverpool put five past Swansea at Anfield on Boxing Day and regained 4th place in the league from Spurs in the process. It was an emphatic win for the Reds but it is important to remember that Swansea were not exactly the strongest of opposition. The Welsh side are still languishing at the bottom of the league after this fixture and look in serious trouble. 

Trent Alexander Arnold
Image via skysports.com
Nevertheless, Liverpool did score five without conceding, a feat to be applauded as we head into the final game of 2018 against Leicester. Captain Philippe Coutinho opened up the scoring with a typical long-range effort sweetly slotted into the top corner. 

I was chatting on Twitter prior to kick-off about Coutinho, I hope to god that we keep hold of him but I can't shake the feeling that he will be off in January. Whatever happens, you cannot deny that he still puts his all into every game for the club.

The Reds had plenty of further chances in the first half and really should have extended their lead but they would not find the back of the net again until the second half. At this stage, Swansea were holding decent amounts of possession and had a solid chance of their own to equalise, the second half though would prove a step too far for the visitors and things began to crumble.

Roberto Firmino found Liverpool's second just seven minutes into the final 45. It was the following goal though that grabbed my attention, youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold had found himself high up the pitch, a botched clearance brought the ball into his path and a stinging effort saw his shot smash off the bar and into the back of the net. His celebration said it all, he was elated. This man for sure is set to be a real Kop hero.

Trent double A and Andy Robertson had a fantastic game, while questions still remain over the defence as a whole, these two are superb going forward and helping to create attacks. It's superb to watch.

The fourth goal was massively down to that man Mo Salah but being the unselfish person that he is, he squared to team-mate Firmino who scored his second of the night with ease. Salah needs real praise here because on at least three or four occasions during this match alone he'd been left in the lurch when really the likes of Lallana or Can or even Firmino should have passed. When the shoe is on the other foot, the Egyptian is always looking for that pass, unselfish yet still on 15 goals, phenomenal.

The fifth and final goal of the night came from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade was always going to have questions asked about his performance, mainly due to his price tag but I feel on the whole he's doing well. As Klopp recently highlighted, if he could bring more goals into his game then it would be perfect, he was helped on the way to that target by scoring against The Swans. 

Next up for the Reds is Leicester at Anfield, the Foxes have pulled out some good results of late but also look vulnerable this season. On the back of such a strong win, let's hope Klopp's side can pick up another three points ready for the New Year.

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Saturday, 23 December 2017

Reds Throw Away 2-0 Lead At The Emirates

For fifty minutes on Friday night, Liverpool had fooled their fans into thinking it would be a walk in the park at the Emirates. Two-nil up after goals from Philippe Coutinho and Mo Salah, the Reds looked dominate against an Arsenal side lacking in ideas but after a spell of just five minutes, Klopp's side had lost their lead.

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 3
Image via The Guardian
A headed goal from Alexis Sanchez opened up the period of utter madness, this was followed by a shot from Xhaka and two minutes later Ozil put the Gunners ahead. Thankfully for Liverpool, Firmino found an equaliser just after 70 minutes but the Reds should never have put themselves in that situation and they have no real excuse.

An early forced substitution saw James Milner replace Jordan Henderson, in reality, that should have affected the balance of the Liverpool side but Milner performed well and was involved in some of the chances.

Coutinho's goal was a rare effort using his head but it was Mo Salah's goal that really lit up the night. A timely pass from Roberto Firmino saw Salah set out towards Cech, with three Arsenal defenders encroaching, the Egyptian never lost his cool and slotted home with a minor deflection.

The elation on the faces of the travelling Kop was soon replaced with confusion. From absolutely nowhere (and I mean nowhere, Arsenal had barely threatened the whole game) at the other end of the pitch, the Gunners capitalised on a lapse in concentration and netted their first of three. 

Three minutes later, Xhaka took a chance with a strike from 25 yards, Mignolet looked as though he had it covered but the Belgian flapped just one hand at the effort and watched it trickle in. 

Two minutes after that Arsenal scored their third, Ozil found the net and put Wenger's side into the lead. It was just phenomenal, the Gunners had found something extra and Liverpool were left shellshocked. 

Firmino's goal secured a point for the Reds but the game once again highlighted Liverpool's incapability of holding on to a lead. 

Post-match James Milner said in an interview that he believed Liverpool should play more boring football. Hilarious as it is, fitting perfectly with his parody Twitter account, the fact is that he's spot on. Sides who securely hold on to a lead do it by playing more intelligently, slowing the pace and passing the ball more. You won't hold on to a win against a side like Arsenal continuing to play with all guns blazing.

It's a weird one because prior to kick off, once again you would probably take a draw but as with the Chelsea game, Liverpool deserved to win, they just couldn't see it out.

It's a problem that's difficult to solve but I think we now need to seriously look at some key positions in the team including the goalkeeper. Without improving the reliability at the back, the Reds are never going to be serious contenders, even with a stunning strike force.

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Thursday, 7 December 2017

Five Things We Learned From Spartak Seven

1 Attack is the best form of defence?

To think I was actually nervous before kick off? After watching us crumble against Sevilla even at half time after three goals went in, I still felt nervous. The Reds though proved that sometimes attack is the best form of defence and boy do we have some attack. 

Some of the link up play between the forwards was stunning let alone the actual goals. It's fair to say that Spartak offered little in attack but why would they when they've had the stuffing knocked out of them?

The confident win puts Liverpool safely into the last 16 and bodes well for our match against Everton at the weekend. 

Image via skysports.com

2 Coutinho will be missed

A hat-trick for the Brazilian, although his final effort was helped along the way. Earlier this season the folk on Twitter were going mental at Couts, some of them even begging for him to be left to rot on the bench. 

I understood the anger and frustration but you can't leave this man on the bench, he truly is a magician. I just hope he stays the full season instead of going in January. A good tie in the last 16 may convince him???

3 Mane keeping some of the limelight

The limelight has been on Mo Salah for the majority of the season and rightly so but Mane last night proved why attention should be focused on himself too. 

There's a reason I got Sadio on the back of my shirt, because he was destined to have a quality season. His first goal was just superb, can somebody please find me a still of him in the air? I would very much like to frame it haha. 

4 Moreno injury?

I spotted Moreno down but was in the midst of heavily swilling a JD & Coke at the  time and didn't fully see what happened? Next thing I know he's looking very tearful leaving the pitch?

I don't think those tears were due to injury, they looked like they came from frustration. I might not be Moreno's biggest fan at the moment but it is vividly clear that he wants to give his all and try his best for the club. Fingers crossed it's not a bad injury.

5 Big Mo

Well what can you say? He was never not going to score last night. Watching six goals go in he was like "Na I can't be doing with this." 

One thing about Mo too is that he's unselfish, he's constantly looking for the best pass or back heel, in this case, the skilful little minx. I cannot wait to see him score a hat trick against Big Sam's Everton haha! 

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Monday, 2 October 2017

Match Report: Newcastle 1 Liverpool 1

It was another frustrating afternoon for Liverpool on Sunday after reaching a stalemate with ex-manager Rafael Benitez. Of all the managers in the league, the Spaniard knows how to tactically kill a game but the Reds still managed to create chances, just failed to convert. Again. 

Image via skysports.com
For me, it was the correct decision to try Daniel Sturridge in place of Roberto Firmino and while Sturridge definitely should have found the back of the net, I still feel as though he added more of a threat than Firmino has done of late. 

Philippe Coutinho yet again proved his worth with a stunning strike on 29 minutes. It's dangerous to give any player space in that area but even more so when it's the Brazilian, that was prime Coutinho territory and he made them suffer. 

Just seven minutes later though and Liverpool were back to their familiar ways, Joselu left Lovren and Matip for dead, or so it seemed. Matip was unlucky not to see his last-ditch tackle come off and Newcastle managed to get the equaliser. 

It's not even like the Reds are playing badly in these fixtures, the problem is how do we solve the issues? Granted we need to improve the defence, we knew that in the summer and we know it now but what about the attack? This was supposed to be the dream season with reams of talented stars pushing forward but somewhere there appears to be a missing link. 

Some of Twitter argue Jordan Henderson should be dropped, others will have you believe we need an out and out striker. I personally am not quite sure what the answer is, all I know is that if we don't sort it quickly we'll be finishing way out of the top four. 

With an international break up next followed by a massive fixture against Manchester United, I can't decide whether the pause will be beneficial or not for the Reds. 

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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Five Talking Points From Moscow

1) One of those days... again? 

How do you have a front line consisting of Salah, Firmino, Mane and Coutinho yet fail to be clinical? It's amazing isn't it, you're sat there thinking "you know what would be perfect here? An in-form Peter Crouch." Ok maybe that's a slight exaggeration but you get the jist, this side needs a true finisher. It's ridiculous and it makes zero sense why we should struggle in front of goal but Liverpool definitely need to work on nailing home a result. 

We were all over Spartak for the majority of the game and some of the chances were agonising to watch when they failed to pay off. Part of me felt as though having Sturridge on the field helped with the more direct opportunities but then even he fluffed a couple of options. 

It's just so frustrating because while this was definitely "one of those days" you can't keep having "those days" and certainly not in the Champions League. 

2) Karius should have got there?

It's probably harsh because it was a decent free kick but he'd done all the hard work, he was practically there yet somehow failed to save the effort. 

Would Migs have saved it? Who knows but I know who I prefer between the sticks at the moment and it's not Loris. 

3) Coutinho delivers 

Image via heraldseries.co.uk
Any murmurs of letting him rot in the reserves have all but died out now. Where would we be without him? He had a fabulous game on Tuesday night not only via his link-up play and great goal thanks to an assist from Mane but also when tracking back in defence. 

4) Firmino sub? 

Many on Twitter raised this and I have to agree. What exactly did Firmino do to deserve to play the whole 90 minutes? He'd of been my first sub, to be honest, but for some reason, Klopp decided to take Mane off first. 

Klopp sometimes baffles me with his substitutions not only his choices but also timings. I just don't think he currently uses them to make maximum impact, Sturridge was a strong move but the wrong player was taken off. On another day though Studge would have found the net and we wouldn't even be discussing subs. Football's a funny game eh?

5) Is a draw in Russia enough? 

Prior to kick off and when finding out who was in the group you'd probably say yes but having watched how much pressure we piled on last night? No, I don't think it is good enough, we should have got all three points there. 

It's not the end of the world and by no means does it mean we're down and out but that simply had to be a win last night, to walk away with a point after all that pressure? Proper annoying.

The Reds never like to make it easy though do they? Especially in the Champions League, there's always got to be a bit of drama. 

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Reds Out Of Carabao Cup

Liverpool were knocked out of the League Cup by Leicester last night despite appearing to control the game in the entire first half. 

The Reds once again came unstuck after creating dangerous plays and chances galore but failing to find the back of the net. There's no denying that some of Liverpool's passing and movement is a joy to watch but what's the point in racking up 600 odd passes if you aren't gonna score? 

Image via mirror.co.uk
Sometimes I honestly feel in these games we should play a more direct style of football but I suppose in hindsight it's easy to say things like that. On another day we would have scored in that first half and gone on to win. 

Klopp played a mixed side introducing several fresh legs including the likes of Flanno, Robertson, Grujic and Solanke up front. He also kept enough experience in the side to make it look as though the match would play out in our favour during the first half. 

Coutinho and Gini, in particular, were causing Leicester a lot of problems and also took the focus off Robertson allowing him to play in some superb crosses. Frustratingly though Ings who would have loved to be on the end of a few set pieces did not enter play until late in the second half, by then Coutinho had been replaced meaning players like Albrighton could turn their focus back to shutting off Robertson. 

I can't say I'm that arsed that we're out, obviously to be great you wanna be chasing all the cups but if there's one I'd prefer to drop out of it's this one. Leicester deserved the win in the end after fighting it out and scoring an hour into the second half via Okazaki. 

Slimani's beautiful strike rounded off what was sure to be a great evening for Foxes' fans and I wish them the best in the next round. 

Liverpool of course can't quite forget about Leicester yet though cause we've gotta do it all over a-bloody-gain on Saturday... 

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

Five Things We Learned From The Sevilla Draw

1 Same old defence

Liverpool just can't seem to get out of this defensive rut, I don't even know what the answer is other than perhaps a complete rethink of tactics and training which seems very rash but the Reds need some kind of defensive intervention. 

Dejan Lovren on Wednesday night should have easily prevented Sevilla's first goal but it's not even just him, the whole back four is a strange and disjointed set up at the moment.

It just doesn't seem to click, even things like solid first time clearances are lacking and the amount of times Liverpool get caught on the second ball? Shocking. Must do better.

Image via mirror.co.uk

2 The attacking line is mesmerising 

While the defence is something we'd all like to forget about the attacking line is something to be proud of. On some of the counter attacks yesterday, watching the likes of Mane, Firmino and Salah stream forward was mesmerising. Any side facing that coming at them is going to have issues but frustratingly, Liverpool didn't punish enough with their dominance on Wednesday. 

3 Bobby Firmino missed the target

Was it a bad miss or was it unlucky? Probably the latter but I can't be doing with a stuttered start for a peno, you're always asking for trouble when you go down that route, just smash it in!

What made it worse for Bobby is that he knew if he found the back of the net from the spot it's a totally different game. 3-1 up and I think even Liverpool would have managed to protect that. Overall though despite the fact we should have battered them, a draw probably isn't that bad although Spartak and Maribor also drew so things could begin to get interesting. 

4 All is well in the land of Coutinho... for now

There's been some mega hatred from Kopites towards the Brazilian and I totally get it but as I said in the match preview, what benefit is that right now? Where's shouting crap from the stands at a star player gonna get us? Where's leaving him to rot in reserves gonna get us? 

As with many people I'm pissed off at the whole situation but we need to get over it and save it until he does actually leave. While you have a player like Coutinho on your books and while he's still willing to play you need to just push all that nonsense aside and get behind him because whatever we think, he's a cracking player and I can guarantee he will get us out of a few holes this season!

5 Berizzo is a silly sod 

What's he doing? Really? Poor old Joe Gomez (even more so after he got sent off) he's just trying to earn a crust and take his throw ins but nooooo Berizzo is clearly so exasperated with the situation he'd much rather throw the ball away... twice. 

It's just daft and he's probably sat there feeling like a right idiot now. As for Jurgen Klopp on the cameras at the end? Hilarious! "But what have I done?... can you tell me what have I done?" 

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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Liverpool V Sevilla [PREVIEW]

Liverpool enter the Champions League group stages on Wednesday evening for the first time since 2014. The Reds' three year absence has felt like a lifetime to most fans and after a favourable draw in the group, all eyes are on Jurgen Klopp's side to open up our European season in a winning fashion.

Liverpool are no strangers to Sevilla having faced them extremely recently in the 2015/2016 Europa League final. This is however the only time that the two sides have met. Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring on the night but the Reds ended up losing the game 3-1.



Team news for Liverpool means that Philippe Coutinho could feature for the first time since the whole Barcelona saga unfolded. I for one can't be arsed with holding a grudge, I'm perfectly happy for him to feature in the side, frankly it would be a waste not to use such a talent. Hopefully if he does start he can find the back of the net.

Thankfully for the Reds Sadio Mane will also be available, his red card picked up for the challenge on Ederson against City on Saturday does not affect Champions League performances. 

coutinho barcelona liverpool fc
Image via skysports.com
There have been several rumours in the run up to the group stages that Klopp may consider playing Loris Karius as our Champions League goalkeeper. I have no idea if this is true or not but to be honest I hope it isn't true, I have no real qualms with Karius and I totally understand he needs game time but it's too risky for me to start him in this competition, it means way too much. 

I'd prefer some consistency with Mignolet remaining in goal for the league and Champions League, Migs isn't the best keeper in the world but at the moment I still don't think Karius is any better, he's very nervous and needs some matches under his belt, for me he should be playing in the cups to build up as a real heavy challenge to Migs. 

For Sevilla, they are unable to call upon Geis and Nolito while a doubt hangs over the fitness of their goalkeeper: David Soria.

The Spanish club are entering their fifth Champions League campaign but they have never got past the round of 16. Both clubs also entered the competition via a play-off with Sevilla beating Basaksehir 4-3. Realistically, Sevilla are the main threat in the group for Liverpool so it will be interesting to see how strong Berizzo's side are at Anfield.

I think we'll be off to a winning start tomorrow, the excitement levels are going to be extremely high with an atmosphere to match as Klopp leads his team out for another hopefully memorable Champions League campaign under the Anfield floodlights. 

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Friday, 8 September 2017

Manchester City V Liverpool [PREVIEW]

Liverpool make the short trip to Manchester on Saturday afternoon as they look to get the better of Pep Guardiola's side. The Reds picked up a massive victory over Arsenal prior to the international break but will the time away from the league affect progress?

Guardiola, Klopp
Image via express.co.uk
The big news for Liverpool this weekend is of course the return of Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian has been back in training but earlier today (I completely missed this news as you'll see from Twitter haha) Klopp announced that Couts would not be in the team for tomorrow's clash. 

It remains to be seen how the whole saga will pan out but to be honest I think it's in everyone's interest to just put it behind us. Coutinho's too good to leave to rot on the bench or in reserves and if he goes next year then so be it, let's squeeze some goals out of him first.

Other team news for the Reds means Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could get his first minutes clocked up in a Liverpool shirt on Saturday. Nathaniel Clyne remains out with a long term injury and Adam Lallana is also unavailable. 

For City, Vincent Kompany who has a calf issue will not make the game and also somewhat ironically, Raheem Sterling is suspended for this one. Karma.

The last time the two sides met was in March this year. The gamed ended 1-1 with James Milner converting from the spot for the Reds. Liverpool have put in some strong performances against City in recent years but this tie has still been a tough fixture at the Etihad. The Manchester side have won three out of the last six fixtures on their home turf in the league.

This clash has also resulted in masses of goals of late. In fact, since December 2013 a total of 26 goals have been scored in this fixture in the league.

"Every time I play Jurgen's teams I learn a lot. Top manager, top club, top players. It will be a nice game tomorrow." - Pep Guardiola

I think we're gonna win tomorrow, after the victory over Arsenal and the sheer intensity in our attack, I just feel like we have enough ammo to get the better of City. Liverpool always play better against the bigger sides and whilst playing City away from home is never going to be an easy fixture I still think the Reds will rise to the occasion.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Monday, 14 August 2017

Champions League Qualifier | Hoffenheim v Liverpool

❓: Champions League first play-off round, first leg
📅: Tuesday 15th August 19:45 GMT
📍: Rhein-Neckar Arena, Sinsheim

Who are Hoffenheim? 

The German side hail from the Sinsheim region and up until 2008 were a team struggling in the lower realms of the German football system. Last year they finished 4th in the Bundesliga and they have some solid centre forwards to call upon. 

Manager Julian Nagelsmann got his side through the whole of the 2016/2017 season with just four losses to their name in the league.

Fun fact: Hoffenheim open their home matches by playing Rammstein's "Engel".

Image via Sky Sports

Should Liverpool be concerned?

On the one hand, Liverpool should be very concerned, other than perhaps Nice most would agree that Hoffenheim were the toughest draw for our Champions League qualifier. The German side may be relatively inexperienced when it comes to Europe but they will be hungrier than most to get through and they enter this fixture on the back of a cracking season.

On the other hand Liverpool have an affinity with the Champions League, you could argue that the Reds shouldn't be concerned by any opposition thrown in front of them. After all to do well in Europe you simply have to beat the best. There's also the fact that it's over two legs, with the second one at Anfield, a huge advantage. 

I personally think this is the kind of game that Liverpool will relish, the enormity of the occasion and the big game atmosphere will work to our advantage I feel.

Previous Meetings

None. The Reds have never crossed Hoffenheim's path before however, overall the Reds do have a fantastic record against German sides. Liverpool have only lost on seven occasions to German opposition from a total of 42 fixtures*.

The Reds may not have faced Hoffenheim but Jurgen Klopp as a manager certainly has. He faced the side 19 times as boss of Borussia Dortmund and his record reads: 
W: 8, D: 7, L: 4.

“If we’re only at 95% against Hoffenheim we’ll have big, big problems, and they will knock us out - Jurgen Klopp”

Team

Well the big, although also rather predictable news is that Coutinho is not in the squad that has travelled to Germany. Does he have a bad back? Or is that a load of tosh? Who knows. What we do know is, there are clearly a few more twists and turns in this saga yet.

Also unavailable for manager Jurgen Klopp is Daniel Sturridge who isn't fit enough and is still recovering from a thigh injury. 

Thoughts

It's going to be a tough game away from home for the Reds but I honestly feel that the occasion will bring out the best in them. The defence is clearly an issue for Liverpool and Hoffenheim will try hard to punish but if Klopp can get his attackers to find an early goal it could be a decent outing. The lads will surely want to prove a point after the Watford game and Liverpool only need a draw really to feel confident returning to Anfield.

I'm going for a relatively uneventful 1-1.

*Source:worldfootball.net

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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Reds Kick Off 17/18 At Watford Away

Welcome back to The Liver Bird for the eighth year of me blogging about the Reds! Let's get stuck straight in with a preview for the opener against Watford shall we?

Coutinho

I can't really type this post without bringing up Couts can I? On Wednesday evening the Reds rejected a £90 million bid from Barcelona for the magician, it's the second time they've come knocking this season, but manager Jurgen Klopp has no plans to let one of his star players go.

"No price at which we are ready to give in. Our goal is to have the best possible team. So we want to keep our guys and add new ones. That is our plan."

I honestly don't think Coutinho is going anywhere this window. I think he knows he can afford to give us another season and if he wants to go to Spain, Barcelona will still be there at the end of it. Liverpool of course can cope without the Brazilian but he'd leave a huge hole. Particularly when we need to turn those dogged draws into wins, he's the man to do it.

New Signings

Let's hope he bloody doesn't but if Coutinho did leave us this window, are our new boys up to scratch? Well Mo Salah may not quite be replacement material but he's shown real promise in pre-season. I for one am very excited to see him perform under Jurgen Klopp in a very attack-minded Liverpool side.

Image via liverpoolfc.com

Solanke who is due to play a smaller role has also set opinions alight after some exciting performances during pre-season as well. The youngster aged just 19 definitely looks like one for the future.

Then we have Andy Robertson, I would be lying if I said I was excited by this move but it's a sensible one from Klopp and I will hold judgement until I get to see him in the Liverpool shirt a few times.

Watford's Signings

Watford have been relatively busy during the window and two of their key signings are Tom Cleverley and Andre Gray. The latter of whom cost just over £18 million having scored ten goals last season, nine of which came in the Premier League.

Watford have also accquired Richarlison from Fluminense. At 20 years old he's seen as a real prospect by some and obviously caught the eye of the Watford manager.

Liverpool Injuries

Liverpool are without Sturridge, Clyne, Coutinho and Lallana for the Watford game. Adam Lallana is out for approximately three months with a thigh injury while Clyne is also searching for fitness having missed pre-season.

Coutinho and Sturridge however are both expected to be available for Liverpool's Champions League qualifier with Hoffenheim next week.

Previous Meetings

The last time the two sides met was in May this year. The Reds scored a single goal via Emre Can to take all three points... don't act like you don't remember that goal... I still drool when I see it now.

Image via Liverpool Echo
The last meeting at Anfield between the two sides was in November 2016, the game ended 6-1 in a fantastic victory for the Reds. Five different goalscorers found the back of the net; Mane, Coutinho, Can, Firmino and Wijnaldum.

In the last six meetings between the two sides in the league, Liverpool have won five with Watford winning the remaining fixture.

Final Word

I cannot wait for the match on Saturday, it feels like it's been a long summer of reading rumours about Keita and batting off Barca and while the transfer window still remains open it will be nice to get stuck in to things and see what Klopp's slightly tweaked team can do.

Firmino in his more direct role with the likes of Salah and Mane behind him in theory should be brilliant to watch, I just hope we can start on a positive. I'm looking forward to another season of blogging and tweeting about the Reds so please drop me a line!

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Saturday, 17 June 2017

Liverpool FC 2016/2017 Season Review

Yes I know, this post is ridiculously late on the blog but better late than never ay? Below I provide you with a quick rundown of each month of the 2016/2017 season. 

Was 4th place good enough? Why do I think Klopp can often be as stubborn as hell? Why did 2017 contain one of the worst matches I have ever watched as a Liverpool fan? Read on to find out.

August

Liverpool kicked off Jurgen Klopp's full season as manager in a game away to Arsenal. The Reds have had some interesting fixtures with Arsene Wenger's side over recent years and this opening tie was no different.

Seven goals were scored in the game, four of which came from Liverpool. I was left with a strange sense of disappointment at the result though after I bet 50p on a 4-4 scoreline for a hundred quid haha.
Image via Liverpool Echo | Jurgen Klopp: "It's really difficult looking for glasses without glasses."
The Reds also picked up a draw with Spurs this month but famously were beaten 2-0 by Burnley.  A 5-0 win over Burton Albion in the second round of the League Cup completed the month of August.

September

Liverpool kicked off September with a convincing win over Champions Leicester. In the 4-1 win Firmino, Mane and Lallana all found the back of the net. A tough tie against Antonio Conte's Chelsea followed but the Reds put on a fantastic performance at Stamford Bridge. 

The match included that ridiculous goal from Dejan Lovren. Google it, it's worth another watch.
Image via 101greatgoals | What a great goal from Lovren
The remainder of September saw Liverpool beat Derby in the League Cup and pick up three points against Hull.

At this point of the season, despite the slip up against Burnley, things were going well, almost too well in fact, so well that I started to think we could actually challenge. I always seem to get carried away...

October

Liverpool made it through October unbeaten, further instilling my pipe dreams about the title. Despite the good results though, I had already begun to voice my concerns over Jurgen Klopp's tactics/set up at this stage.

For me, I just think that Klopp was far too stubborn on occasions during the season. This first came properly to light for myself against Swansea, we won the match but looked very predictable and lacking in options and this only became more noticeable against a lower calibre of opposition as the season went on.

So called smaller sides completely found us out and whilst Klopp had some options at his disposal to field a more traditional set up with a striker, he appeared to be extremely reluctant to do so. There were several matches last season where I was screaming for Sturridge and/or Origi to be brought on but Klopp opted to ride it out.

Octobers results were as follows: Swansea 1 Liverpool 2, Liverpool 0 Man United 0, Liverpool 2 West Brom 1, Liverpool 2 Spurs 1, Palace 2 Liverpool 4

November

The month of November began with a confident 6-1 win over Watford but followed with a 0-0 draw against Southampton. 

The one thing the Reds appeared to lack last season was consistency. Granted, Saints are a difficult side to face but Liverpool could never quite seem to capitalise on their results, there was no real momentum. Flashes of consistency would appear in sections of the season but nothing concrete. 

Liverpool left it late to beat Sunderland on the 26th November, only finding the net in the 75th minute and then again via a penalty in 90+1. Finally, the Reds beat Leeds in the quarter final of the League Cup.


Me attending the Football Blogging Awards at Old Trafford in November. Not impressed with Fergie like...

December

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell f**k.

The festive season got off to a pretty shocking start for Liverpool. I for one had been travelling the day before for close to 24 hours from the UK to Whistler in Canada. Knowing we were playing whilst I was catching up on some much needed sleep, my head hit the pillow confident in the knowledge we'd been on a great run and that Bournemouth of all teams should pose no threat.

It wasn't such a merry Christmas for Liverpool...
How wrong I was.

I woke up in Whistler's Winter Wonderland full of Christmas joy only to check BBC Sport to find we'd lost 4-3 to Bournemouth. 4-3?! What the hell?! I very nearly threw my phone into the snow.

This match was then followed by a 2-2 with West Ham. Some of the many cracks in Liverpool's armour were seriously beginning to show by Christmas but on the whole the Reds had another pretty decent month. December included a 1-0 win in the Merseyside derby (but in extra time!!) and the same winning margin against Manchester City on New Year's Eve.

January

Liverpool played a total of nine matches in January and only won one of them. For a variety of reasons it was a terrible month to be a Liverpool fan, but even more so when you are a Liverpool fan who was born and raised in Wolverhampton. (If you don't already know why and how I became a Liverpool supporter drop me a tweet, always makes a good excuse to chat haha - @LFCKirstyLFC)

So I basically ended up in my favourite pub in the centre of Wolverhampton, literally surrounded by Wolves fans to watch the FA Cup fourth round tie. It was easily one of the worst matches I have ever had to watch and one of the worst experiences I've had. We were diabolical. I had nothing to throw back at them, we'd conceded within seconds and offered zero in return. A consolation goal from Origi allowed me to celebrate momentarily but Wolves had well and truly done us over and I'm still facing the stick now. Read the match report here.


Dealing with the bants from me fella and me brother...

Other results in January included losses at the hands of both Swansea and Southampton. Draws with Sunderland, Chelsea, Manchester United and Plymouth (Lucas scored to put us through in the second leg - FA Cup). We also lost the League Cup semi-final against Southampton.

So all in all, a bloody cracking month pfft.

February

Things didn't improve much in February for Jurgen Klopp's side either. The first fixture against Hull ended in a 2-0 loss and we also lost 3-1 to Leicester. Sandwiched in between that though was a 2-0 win over Spurs.

It makes no sense, the Reds continued throughout the whole season to perform extremely well against the big sides yet were being completely undone by teams like Hull, Bournemouth and Burnely. It was almost unexplainable. I still however at this point found myself rather frustrated with Klopp's tactics and set up. It just wasn't working against sides who defended and played on the counter. Teams were more than happy to allow us possession and just hit us on the break, we'd waltz around the box for large portions of the game with no real answer of how to break the opposition down, it was crap to watch to be honest.


Image via Goal | Liverpool concede against Hull
It was at this point of the season when I started to seriously think about 4th place and would it be good enough? I pretty quickly came to the conclusion that yes it would be. It was Jurgen Klopp's first season, he's yet to make a significant stamp on the team and let's face it, he was still learning about the standards of the Premier League. I just hope that he's learnt from his minor mistakes last season.

March

March opened with another win over Arsenal and another convincing one at that. The Reds won 3-1 at Anfield thanks to goals from Firmino, Mane and Wijnaldum.

This also happened:

Liverpool managed to get revenge over Burnley with a 2-1 win and ended the month on a 1-1 draw with Man City. I hopped over to Turin in March to tick off a big box on my bucket list. I've always loved Italian football and reading about the history of it, my chosen team are Torino and I was lucky enough to see them face Inter Milan. It was a fantastic experience!

Swapping the Premier League for Serie A when I went to watch Torino v Inter Milan in March. Liverpool played Man City the day after, I had to watch that Lallana miss in Italian...

April 

Things started to hot up for the top 4 in April and it began to feel as though every minor slip up from here on out could seriously damage Liverpool's chances. Teams around the Reds began to find some consistency and also had the bonus of games in hand.

A solid 3-1 win over Everton got the month off to a great start, the iconic photo of Coutinho, Firmino and Mane made it feel like the Reds may have turned a corner. Somewhat predictably though, we hadn't.

Image via This Is Anfield | That attack though
In the following match we drew 2-2 with Bournemouth, dropping valuable points we'd worked so hard to collect. Two wins over Stoke and West Brom helped matters for the Reds but then they went and lost to Palace at the end of the month because idiotically they didn't look out for Christian Benteke.

May


And then it was May, May felt like a very nervy month for all Liverpool fans. The teams around us had closed in to tighten the race for the top 4 and knowing the Reds could falter at any moment made relaxing impossible.

First up was Watford, for the best part of 45 minutes it looked like it might turn in to one of those games for Liverpool but then the hero that is Emre Can popped up with goal of the season. What a phenomenal effort, I don't think it will ever get boring watching that back.

Image via Sky Sports | Emre Can wonder goal
The Watford win was followed by a 0-0 draw with Southampton, only Liverpool could have done this. Southampton, at home, with two games to go after that match, but no, the Reds couldn't find the back of the net.

Thankfully, Liverpool did eventually see out the season with victories over West Ham and Boro meaning they were back in Europe under manager Jurgen Klopp. An exciting prospect to say the least.

Overall the 2016/2017 season was a mixed bag. Consistency was definitely an issue, tactics/stubbornness and set up was definitely another one and a lack of depth in the team to be perfectly honest. The switcheroos between Karius and Mignolet also didn't help, for me the role of goalkeeper needs to be a set one for each competition, there was a point last season where Mignolet genuinely thought he'd lost his spot and while some argue this helps a player focus on getting back in the team, I would argue that if left out for long enough it could have shattered his confidence. 

He's not the best keeper in the world by any means but I do feel that Migs had a pretty decent season in the end and I'm glad he remained in goal. Liverpool simply must buy strong in this transfer window and they must learn from their mistakes, when plan A doesn't work, they desperately need a plan B to break down more difficult and defensive opposition.

Here's hoping we get a few new faces in the transfer window and roll on August!

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Monday, 22 May 2017

Reds Back In Europe

Oh Gini Wijnaldum, how much do I love you? I was on the edge of a football breakdown at 45 minutes so thank god he stepped up with that cracking goal in the 46th!

Image via The Guardian
That first half was agonising on Sunday and while you kind of expect that Liverpool these days need time to build themselves up into a game, time is something we didn't really have this weekend. Not when Manchester City are romping home and a Arsenal are somehow still ahead despite having a man sent off!

Thankfully, none of that mattered as in the end Liverpool did find their stride and it was plain sailing from there. The Reds are back in Europe and deservedly so I think. 

We've had our ups and downs this season but overall I feel we've had a respectable campaign. Our record against teams in the traditional top four for example was nothing short of phenomenal. Our pitfall of course was against the smaller teams, teams who were extremely hard to break down, we just didn't appear to have a Plan B. When push came to shove though and things got tight during the final run in, it was Jurgen Klopp's men who held their nerve.

So what happens now?

Well, Liverpool are seeded for the Champions League knock out stages which means we will avoid teams like Sevilla and Napoli. We will find out who we face in the two legged play off on August 4th. 

Assuming we don't mess it all up, I cannot wait for the group stages that follow and for legendary European nights to return to the glorious Anfield!

Have a great summer folks! Stay tuned to The Liver Bird where a season round up will appear and some news/opinion posts prior to the new season. As always, thank you so much for reading and sharing. This little old blog is a real passion of mine and it would be nothing without you! After starting full time work and finishing Uni last year I can't deny it's been more difficult to juggle blogging with everything else going on but I still love writing about Liverpool Football Club so roll on 17/18! #YNWA 

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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Five Things We Learned At London Stadium

1) Playing two strikers can actually work

I've been saying for months now, Liverpool should not be afraid to field two strikers. For me, the whole season we have faced sides such as West Ham and failed to break them down with our Plan A. I love Jurgen Klopp but I think most of us would agree that he can be a bit stubborn at times. On far too may occasions this season Klopp has decided for whatever reason to field the same tactics and an extremely similar team against sides who are determined to make things difficult for us.

Image via Liverpool Echo
Teams like West Ham all season have been more than happy to sit back and allow Liverpool to keep possession, fail to score due to a lack of ideas and a lack of directness and then simply hit us on the break.

In my opinion, having a true striker like Daniel Sturridge on, even better in a front two gives us a much greater chance of breaking down this kind of opposition. Yes it took a significant proportion of the game to take effect on Sunday but it is not a coincidence that game ended 4-0 with both strikers on the score sheet and a brace from Philippe Coutinho.

Playing two strikers not only offers the side more options in the box it also creates a totally different issue for the opposition defence, while West Ham's centre backs are busy with eyes on Sturridge and Origi it gives players like Coutinho the freedom and space they need to really punish.

It's a bit late in the day now but I can't help but feel that if we'd of at least tried this set up, even for half an hour during some of the games we've struggled in, things could be so different right now.

2) Sprinkle of luck

It's not often Liverpool get a bit of luck, it certainly doesn't feel like we have this season but the Reds had two dashes of it on Sunday. First of all when Ayew missed an absolute sitter, he literally just had to tap it into an open net from about a metre out but some how failed to find goal.

Secondly, Liverpool could have found themselves facing up to a penalty after a potential hand ball in the box from Wijnaldum. Gini himself looked guilty as hell as he turned to the referee to check the decision, thankfully for us the whistle did not go.

3) Daniel Sturridge is back

Sturridge has come under a lot of stick recently from some sections of the Liverpool fan base and I personally have never been able to understand this. Yes he is very injury prone but on his day Daniel Sturridge is still one of the best strikers in the league.

Off the pitch he is a lovely guy and it's clear he just wants to strive to do his best for our football club. I was so happy to see him actually start on Sunday and if I wasn't so skint this month, I would have had money on him to find the net haha. His goal set up by a killer pass from Coutinho was brilliant. The striker timed his run perfectly to remain onside and was calm as ever as he took the ball around the keeper and finished.

I'm not sure what the future holds for Sturridge but it seems like he wants to fight for his place and I for one would still love to have him at Anfield.

4) Coutinho at his best

It was no surprise Coutinho was handed man of the match after a brilliant assist and two goals of his own. As mentioned previously, Coutinho is at his best when he has that bit of freedom to work his magic. Playing strikers today in my opinion is what allowed Coutinho to shine and he did not disappoint with two great goals.

5) The Reds can grind it out

Finally, Liverpool showed that they can grind it out when they need to if they really work at it. It hasn't happened on many occasions this season but the Reds proved at the London Stadium that they can stick it out. For the majority of the first half the Reds looked completely out of it but lifted by the Daniel Sturridge goal late in the first half and boosted by regrouping, it was clear they meant business in the second 45.

A ruthless start to the second half of the match left West Ham pretty much dumbfounded and with a second goal under their belt at 57 minutes the Reds went from strength to strength.

_____

I don't know about you but I was really nervous for this match and I have now screamed myself hoarse yelling at four goals, in particular at Sturridge's opener. All Liverpool have to do now is beat Boro at Anfield, surely to god we can do that?! One more game.

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