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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Sunday, 7 October 2018

Man City At Anfield

In just a few hours Liverpool will walk out at Anfield against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City. The Sky Blues are currently sitting top of the Premier League table thanks to a better goal difference than Jurgen Klopp's side. Liverpool will be desperate to make the most of this chance against City and to put distance between themselves and every other team in the league for the time being.

Image via express.co.uk
Onlookers Chelsea will be begging that this game ends in a draw and to be honest it's definitely a possibility. If it is a draw, it'll be a 2-2 or a 3-3 because I'm convinced this game will have goals. For me, the way in which City play will massively assist Liverpool and players such as Mane, Salah and Firmino should be able to capitalise on the gaps left by the visitors.

Injuries for Liverpool are pretty much the same, thankfully though, for the Reds, Naby Keita who went off against Napoli with a back problem may still be able to feature having been checked over thoroughly by medical staff. 

Pep Guardiola receives a boost team wise as both Kevin De Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy returned to training earlier this week. Ilkay Gundogan, however, remains a doubt.

The last time the two sides met was in April last year. The second leg of a huge Champions League tie ended in a 2-1 win for Liverpool thanks to goals from the brilliant Mo Salah and the influential Roberto Firmino.

The reverse of this fixture at Anfield also ended superbly for the Reds after they picked up a 3-0 win. A feast for the eyes of Kopites in the ground and around the world saw Klopp's side utterly control Manchester City. Oxlade-Chamberlain's goal that night was a particular highlight for me from last season as a whole.

In the Premier League fixture at Anfield during January, Liverpool once again got the better of Guardiola's side. A game that ended 4-3 for the Reds saw goals from Oxlade-Chamberlain, Firmino, Mane and Salah. City scored two goals in quick succession at 84 and 90 minutes which sent hearts racing but Klopp's side held on for all three points.

History tells us that this game will be an exciting one. Some fans have been overly critical of the Liverpool side after the last minute loss at the hands of Napoli in Italy but for me, that fixture was always going to be a tough one and it's unfortunate the Reds couldn't quite hold on for the draw.

Anybody who thinks the Reds are going to let that result affect them going into this game has another thing coming because there is no other fixture in this league at the moment that will drive on Klopp's side more than a mouthwatering tie against Manchester City.

If the Reds can find a win here we will have come through an extremely tough period of both league and European fixtures, not only still in with a great shot of getting through to the group stages but also sitting pretty at the top of the league going into another international break. All completed while still arguably playing below our true potential, I for one am not going to argue with that.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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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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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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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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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Brazilian Masterclass At The Etihad

     
                                                         Image via telegraph.co.uk

Liverpool picked up a massive result against Manchester City on Saturday evening as Klopp’s side scored four goals at the Etihad. It was a superb result for the Reds who made mince meat of City’s weakened defence.

Jürgen Klopp made a bold decision to select an XI without a recognised striker and I can't deny that the set up worried me initially. I guess I'm just a traditionalist at heart and I get frustrated when there's no striker on the field however, this line up worked well against Chelsea and it proved to be a stroke of genius against City too.

Liverpool’s first goal of the game came just seven minutes into the first half. A last ditch attempt from Sagna to hack Coutinho off the ball resulted in failure as the magic number 10 maintained possession and set off towards goal on the left wing. A timely pass to Firmino allowed his compatriot to whip in a cross only for Mangala to bumble home an own goal. It was comedic to be fair and the City defence were definitely struggling to adapt after the injuries affecting their back four.

It may have been an own goal but it was no coincidence that the Reds were in the lead, they were playing City off the park and pressure continued to mount for Pellegrini’s side who failed to offer any real threat in the opening stages of the game. 

At 22 minutes, Liverpool had found their second of the game and it was Coutinho and Firmino linking up yet again. Firmino flew through the City defence with ease and placed a perfect pass to Coutinho who tapped home his fourth goal in five fixtures against City.

Being 2-0 up at the Etihad after just 20 minutes is not something that happens, certainly not for Liverpool who haven't picked up a win at the ground in the league since 2008. The show wasn’t over yet though and Klopp’s side continued to boss the game as they searched for a third goal.

The Brazilian pairing of Coutinho and Firmino were involved once again for the third. This time the play was initiated after a cheeky back heel from Emre Can, the pass was definitely onside and picked up by Coutinho who left Hart with no chance as he swept the ball across to his teammate. Firmino slotted Liverpool’s third goal of the game home after just 30 minutes. 

The pairing of the two Brazilians and the way they played on Saturday for me proves how vital a change in manager was for Liverpool. Yes, tactically Klopp has applied his changes but it's clear to see that the team want to play for their manager, they are content and it shows in their game.

Just before the half hour mark the influential Aguero tried to spoil the party for the Reds. It was a cracking goal from the Argentinian who took his effort from outside the box and finished in style. 

The second half began with a bit of an edgy feel because it felt as though Man City may just be able to get back into this game. The feeling wasn't helped when James Milner decided it would be a good idea to slide a back pass intended for Mignolet straight into the path of Raheem Sterling. Thankfully for the Reds, Sterling for some reason opted not to shoot and instead passed to Aguero but Mignolet completed the save. 

With 15 minutes left of the match Christian Benteke got his chance to feature in the game by replacing Roberto Firmino. He was quickly involved too after breaking with two defenders on his case, standing strong he got one on one with the keeper but his effort was saved.

Then, at 80 minutes, something truly magical happened. Those who know me will know I have an obsession with defenders and also that I love Martin Skrtel. Almost every week I have a quid on him to be first goalscorer and a quid on him as last goalscorer. Over the years I've seen odds of 12/1, 20/1 and even 25/1 but yesterday when I logged into my Paddy Power app I scrolled through the goalscorers to see Skrtel at 40/1! “Ridiculous!” I thought and I immediately put my quid on. So you can imagine what happened when he scored.

I was already elated at the fact we were 3-1 up at the Etihad but when that ball fell to Skrtel I thought “oh jeez its on his foot, he only scores with his head”. I was certain he was gonna smash the shot into the stands but instead he struck a half volley that any striker would envy. I went bloody mental! Jumping round the pub smacking my brother shouting “I've won forty effin quid!!!” Haha it was absolutely quality. 

What a game, what a result, what a team performance! Klopp's favouring of a pressing game was evident on Saturday and City no matter how hard they tried were not going to get any time on the ball. What was even more hilarious was the fact that Raheem Sterling was supposed to be the headline maker for this one and he did absolutely nothing.

I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:



Next up for Liverpool is Bordeaux. 

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