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, 31 January 2016

Five Things We Learned From The West Ham Draw

One: The Reds are dire in front of goal.

Image via Christian Benteke
A snore draw in the FA Cup with West Ham on Saturday evening once again highlighted a now desperate need for a prolific goalscorer. In a match that Christian Benteke started, the Belgian failed to stamp a mark on the game and when faced with promising chances was incapable of finding the back of the net. He's clearly low on confidence and the Reds just can't afford to waste chances at the moment.

You have to feel that including Daniel Sturridge in Saturday's team would have solved some of the main problems because the possession levels and pressure on the ball were fine, even the defensive display was relatively strong, we just can't bloody score! Waiting for the Sturridge return though and then pinning all our hopes on his ability to remain fit? It's just not a long term option is it.

Two: James Tomkins isn't as hard as I thought he was.

Tomkins is in his 8th year as a West Ham player (including a short loan spell to Derby) and I've grown to like him over the years. He strikes me as a bit of a stalwart as I'm sure Hammers fans would agree, so to see him go off after crashing his head into Joe Allen's, I was a bit disappointed to be honest. I expected him to carry on with a bandaged head like the good old days!

Image via James Tomkins, Liverpool 0 West Ham 0
But in all seriousness, it was a bad collision and I hope he returns to their ranks soon.

Three: Steven Caulker fancies himself as a bit of a juggler.

New boy Steven Caulker got his first real chance to impress Jürgen Klopp in defence on Saturday, as opposed to playing a makeshift striker in the dying minutes. The defender played pretty well to be honest but Slaven Bilić was right to feel enraged when the ex QPR man handled the ball in the box not once but twice.

Image via Steven Caulker handball.
It was evident Caulker had intentions to handle the ball in my opinion and the Reds were extremely lucky not to have faced a spot kick. In fairness though a poor decision from the referee late in the second half sort of levelled things out when a cross flew out of play but was deemed legitimate. The cross almost resulted in a goal too but thankfully the West Ham effort smashed off the post.

Four: Joe Allen and acrobatics don't mix.

If you follow me on Twitter you'll know I popped a quid on Joe Allen with Paddy Power for first goalscorer, so when he leapt up for a bicycle kick I was excited to say the least but the Welshman failed to increase his god like status around Anfield and unceremoniously crashed to the ground.

Image via Joe Allen
To be fair to Joe though I've criticised him in the past but he's been putting in some good performances of late and I feel he deserves a start in the league against Leicester.

Five: We do not need a replay right now.

Liverpool's fixture list was already horrendously congested and the replay at Upton Park has only made things worse. I'm glad we're still in the competition but so frustrated that we weren't able to convert any of our chances, the strikes from Brannagan and Teixeira stand out in particular. The Reds already had seven games in February including a League Cup final, another FA Cup tie was the last thing we needed. I was quite surprised that West Ham didn't wipe the floor with us to be honest and I fully expect them to play a lot more positively at home but here's hoping we can somehow find a way through.

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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Klopp Can't Look As Reds Go Through On Penos

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Liverpool are through to the final of the league cup after winning 6-5 on penalties at Anfield on Tuesday evening. After 90 minutes it was an offside goal from Arnautovic which forced the game to extra time and eventually the dreaded spot kicks. Jurgen Klopp's side were extremely underwhelming throughout the match and can consider themselves lucky to have sealed a ticket to Wembley after a convincing performance from Stoke.

Liverpool entered the second leg with a 1-0 advantage thanks to a Jordon Ibe goal at the Britannia and for the majority of the first half, despite not playing well, it looked as though the home side were going to make half time without too many issues. The influential Arnautovic though found his team an important goal at the 45 minute mark, he was clearly offside but to be honest a goal was nothing more than Stoke deserved. The Reds had provided little to nothing in terms of attack and it was Stoke who commanded this semi-final now.

A clever tactic from Mark Hughes involved the reintroduction of Peter Crouch to fluster an already faltering Liverpool defence but it was fielding Jonathan Walters up against Alberto Moreno that proved to be the real masterstroke. The Everton fan already has plenty of reasons to annoy any Liverpool player but Moreno well and truly fell for his games and came unstuck because of it, the 32 year old put in a brilliant performance for his side.

Just 12 minutes into the second half and Klopp made the decision to bring on Christian Benteke, a relatively early substitution by the German's standards but the Reds were completely ineffective in front of goal and desperately needed something different. Introducing the Belgian did see a slight improvement in play, particularly in terms of holding the ball up but Liverpool still couldn't find a goal and one goal was all they needed. It's frankly inexcusable to end 90 minutes at home against Stoke with one shot on target but that's exactly what happened.

Extra time was a carbon copy of the previous 90 minutes, relative control from Stoke and a few extremely nervy moments for the Liverpool back line. The Reds now had Joe Allen and also introduced Jordon Ibe into the fray but failed to worry Stoke keeper Jack Butland. Let's face it, Liverpool did not deserve to be in this game, Stoke had a bit of luck with the offside decision but the Reds were lucky to have not conceded at least two more goals. Somehow though, Klopp's boys managed to prevent any further danger from the visitors.

Penalties are horrible to watch no matter who you are playing and it always amazes me how you start to doubt your own players from the spot, any player of any caliber should know how to find the back of the net from that distance but you can never tell how the pressure is going to affect them. Jonathan Walters stepped up first and scored for the Potters who had won the toss and chosen the Anfield Road end for the spot kicks.

First up for Liverpool was Adam Lallana who equalised. When Peter Crouch stepped up I have to admit I had a feeling it may be an effort Mignolet would save, Crouch has been out of practice and sometimes you can just tell when they walk up, Migs saved. This was a massive opportunity for Liverpool, the first point in the whole match where they actually deserved and had made an effort to take victory from the game but Emre Can stepped up and smashed his penalty off the post.

Whelan scored for Stoke and Benteke, cool as a cucumber, equalised. Afellay scored and so did Firmino. Shaqiri netted followed by Milner then van Ginkel scored meaning Lucas had to, he did.

Sudden death.

Is there anything worse?

For Stoke, Marc Muniesa approached the spot. My Dad has always told me to watch a player walking up for a penalty closely, ever since I was a little girl he's always sworn that he can tell if they are going to miss, of course most of the time it's absolute crap, you know what Dad's are like but on Tuesday night Dad saw something... "You watch, he'll save this."

There was something about Muniesa, he didn't look confident and sure as anything Simon Mignolet pulled off a brilliant save! All we had to do was score, after 120 minutes of failing to do just that, all Joe Allen had to do was score.

Some players stepped up for our penos and I won't lie, I didn't have faith but I felt confident with Joe Allen, coined as the Welsh Pirlo, he certainly netted in a fashion the Italian legend would be proud of and Liverpool had sealed their place in the final at Wembley!

Undeserving? Perhaps, but I can't sit here and pretend I care, the Reds are through and Manchester City or Everton await.

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Thursday, 21 January 2016

Reds Through To FA Cup Fourth Round

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Liverpool have secured their place in a fourth round fixture against West Ham after putting three past Exeter at Anfield on Wednesday night. It was another relatively inexperienced side fielded by Jürgen Klopp but the likes of Christian Benteke and Joe Allen also featured in the replay.

It was immediately noticeable that Exeter were not the same team we saw at St James' Park after Joe Allen found the back of the net in just ten minutes. What was really confusing many onlookers though was the decision by Exeter manager Paul Tisdale to leave their top goalscorer Tom Nichols on the bench. I'm not sure what the thinking was behind that but I honestly think it affected Exeter, Liverpool may have got off the mark early and we maintained the majority of possession but if Exeter had their star man on who knows what could have happened.

The sight of Jose Enrique was a surprising one for most Liverpool fans on Wednesday night, perhaps even more surprising though was the fact he was wearing the captain's armband. I have to admit I always quite liked Enrique, he definitely began to lack in consistency as time went on but it always felt harsh that he'd sort of been excommunicated when wanting to try and fight for his place. I can't quite tell whether Klopp likes him or not but he didn't exactly have a bad game last night so maybe he's in the manager's plans.

The game for me threw a spotlight on three players and not all for the right reasons; Jordon Ibe, Brad Smith and Christian Benteke. The former two players had a stormer, Ibe in particular who went close to goal on several occasions and commanded the wing. Unfortunately however, Benteke didn't exactly have a memorable 90 minutes. He was of course involved in the final goal showing an unselfish side in assisting Teixeira however the forward just wasn't in the right place at the right time and faltered when he was given a real chance. It's worrying because if you can't show the business against Exeter then when will you? Despite this I still feel that Liverpool need to utilise Benteke whilst he is here, as mentioned in previous reports, he brings a lot more to the game than just goals and for me his presence is required.

Teixeira may have netted the third at 82 minutes but "What about Ojo's goal?" I hear you say, well it was a great goal, it almost looked too easy however as most of you will know, living in Wolverhampton I've seen a lot of Ojo and perhaps stubbornly, I refuse to get carried away! He did play well though so I will be keeping a close eye on him going forward.

Next up for Liverpool is Norwich it will be interesting to see whether Klopp gives any of his youngsters a chance.

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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Allen Nets Equaliser In 90th Minute

Image via
Liverpool versus Arsenal is rarely ever a dull game, even in clashes where no goals are scored both sides always manage to put on a show and it was no different on Wednesday night. The six goal thriller was end to end in the first half with the Reds perhaps faltering a bit in the second, Klopp's side didn't give up though and it was Joe Allen at 90 minutes who scored an equaliser to ensure both teams walked away with a point.

It was Roberto Firmino who was first to score in the game, the Brazilian has had performances called into question of late, looking somewhat lacklustre without his compatriot Philippe Coutinho. The number 11 though made sure he took his chance on this occasion as Petr Cech failed to completely deal with a shot from Emre Can, the ball splayed out to Firmino who converted to put Liverpool into the lead.

It was a brilliant start for Klopp's side and I think it's fair to say not many expected Liverpool to take the lead. However, predictably, the lead didn't last long when Ramsey managed to find an equaliser after some neat play from the visitors. With two goals in just 14 minutes it was clear that this game was going to be a corker.

Five minutes later and Firmino was at it again this time a beautiful strike from 25 yards out found its way into the back of the net. The Brazilian was looking confident and shortly after his second a chance to complete a hat trick with a volley on the turn arose, it would have been sublime but it wasn't to be.

Arsenal had plans of their own as Giroud found his side another equaliser. At 25 minutes a corner whipped in by Ramsey caused a real issue for Simon Mignolet who dealt poorly with the danger, a touch from Giroud was enough to find goal.

The second half saw Arsenal take the lead in the game for the first time when that man Giroud once again found the back of the net. It was a lovely goal initiated by a nice turn in the box but you have to feel Liverpool were asking for trouble again with some rather questionable defending.

The Reds continued to battle but for long periods it looked like the visitors had managed to grab a hold of the game as the second half went on. The Reds did not give up though and the introduction of Christian Benteke and Joe Allen proved a pivotal move from manager Jurgen Klopp who must have realised he needed fresh legs on the pitch.

At 90 minutes, just when it looked like all hope was lost, a ball into the box from Jordan Henderson was met by Benteke who rose like a salmon to ensure he got his head on the ball, his header crossed goal to an awaiting Joe Allen who with a perfectly timed effort smashed home the Liverpool equaliser. What a way to end the night!

You have to say fair play to Benteke and Allen there because lets face it, without them we'd have been walking away without any points. Perhaps I'm being bias but a draw was the right result for me, over the whole 90 minutes I don't think there was too much between the two sides.

Next up for Liverpool is Manchester United!

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Sterling And Allen Score In Newcastle Win

image via

Liverpool picked up all three points at Anfield on Monday evening as goals from Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen gave the Reds their win. As the tabloids concern themselves with the extremely dangerous consequences of youngsters and helium balloons, Brendan Rodgers will surely be pleased with his side’s result as he aims to chase down Manchester City.

The game began with a poignant minutes silence to mark 26 years since the Hillsborough disaster. The minute was impeccably observed by both fans and the fight continues for justice for the 96.

The game got off to a very good start for Liverpool who quickly opened the scoring at Anfield in just eight minutes. A sublime finish from Raheem Sterling left Krul with no chance after he weaved his way into the box brushing defenders aside with ease. A goal was just what Sterling needed I think as no matter what is happening with his contract at the end of the day he’s just been a bit daft, he’s a young talented footballer and doesn’t need his own fans getting on his back, certainly not while he’s still at the club!

Scoring so early in the game, it looked as though Liverpool had got this one all wrapped up however things quickly began to slip for the Reds. Despite bags of chances and a lot of pressure on the Newcastle net, without an out and out striker Liverpool were struggling to convert. As the likes of Coutinho and Sterling continued to fall short of the end product Newcastle began to grow in confidence. Simon Mignolet was called into action on a couple of occasions but the scoreline didn’t change at the end of the first half.

The second half saw the Magpies continue their positive pressure, attempts from Obertan and Abeid early on ensured Liverpool had to remain alert.

Just before the hour mark Brendan Rodgers opted to bring on Fabio Borini. Now as we know, I’m all for playing a striker but to be honest I couldn’t understand why he didn’t just chuck on Rickie Lambert instead here. Luckily, it didn’t matter who Rodgers brought on because eventually Liverpool got their act together and found themselves a second goal.

Not before another humbling moment at Anfield though as Newcastle made a substitution bringing on Gutierrez for Obertan. After battling cancer and returning to football Gutierrez received a standing ovation from all in the ground and it was fantastic to see.

A few minutes after the substitution and Liverpool had scored their second goal of the game courtesy of Joe Allen. A shot from the centre of the box allowed the midfielder to celebrate with his teammates but this goal was definitely a big one. It felt like it was only a matter of time before Newcastle would equalise and dash any glimmer of hope left at grasping 4th.

The final real moment of note in the game was a horrific challenge by Sissoko on Lucas. Already booked for playing handbags with Glen Johnson, Sissoko went in with a rash challenge, studs up and straight into Lucas’ shin. It was bloody horrible. How he wasn’t given a straight red instead of a second yellow I don’t know but the main thing is, Lucas is ok.

It was an important win for the Reds who have to stay positive as you simply don’t know what will happen at the end of the season. Manchester City are capable of slipping but the Reds need to be on top form themselves.

Next up for Liverpool is the small matter of Aston Villa at Wembley in the FA Cup semi final!

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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Reds Lose A 3-0 Lead Massively Denting Title Hopes

77 minutes have passed, you're 3-0 up at Selhurst Park and willing your team on to score more goals as you aim to chase down a seemingly insurmountable goal difference held by Manchester City in order to further bolster your bid for the title. A minute later Palace score, you find yourself frustrated that they dare ruin this goalscoring rout but it gets a lot worse, two minutes later, they score again. You panic but you assume Liverpool will hold out, keep their concentration and see it through and then, out of nowhere Palace score again. Unbelievable.

I would usually try to give you a round up of the game in the best way that I can but I feel this fixture calls for a different outlook. As Liverpool's last away tie all the Reds needed to do was collect all three points to keep the pressure on Manchester City but our defensive mishaps that have been present all season were easily undone by a buoyant Crystal Palace after getting some luck via a deflection for their first.

Liverpool's first goal came from none other than Joe Allen. The Welsh lad did brilliantly to escape his marker and then rise to send home his header. The goal came at a great time for Liverpool who were creating chances but struggling to fully break down a confident Crystal Palace side.

Selhurst Park was a fortress of noise but the 12th man couldn't do much to help their side in the initial portion of the second half. A second goal for Liverpool came from Daniel Sturridge, he created himself some space and took his chance on the edge of the box sending home his strike with the aid of a slight deflection.

At this point Liverpool were in the midst of a great spell and just two minutes later we'd scored again. This time a move between Sterling and Suarez saw the former pass to the latter at an angle in the box. The Uruguayan with a typical finish then secured Liverpool another goal putting them 3-0 up.

Despite the fact we were still requiring a slip up from City with this result, the mood really was electric. It was feasible to suggest City might gain only a draw from one of their last two games and whilst Liverpool looked certain to go on and win this game as fans we all sat back beaming.

How things can change in football though.

In true Istanbul-esque style, Tony Pulis' Crystal Palace who had nothing left to play for began to take control of the game. Delaney saw his chance to have a shot from distance and after a massive deflection from Glen Johnson, he'd scored his what appeared to be a consolation goal.

But whilst Palace began to gain a foothold, Liverpool looked more and more nervous. Why? Why were we getting nervous? We were 3-1 up and still creating chances?

Things went from bad to worse for the Reds as Dwight Gayle netted a right footed shot from the centre of the box. At this point the worry really did begin to set in but with just 10 minutes left on the clock all Liverpool had to do was maintain a calm head, clear anything that came their way and secure these vital three points.

But no. After what can only be described as a shambles in defence, Dwight Gayle was allowed the time and space to score his second of the night and Crystal Palace's third. By this point my head had dropped, tears were in my eyes and I found myself wondering what the hell had just happened. My head came back up though to perhaps idiotically cheer on the lads praying they would find a winner, a melee in the box late on nearly led to glory only for Victor Moses to somehow forget how to put a ball into a basically empty goal?

It was bizarre. Here we are top of the league because we'd drew and yet here I was fucking pissed off.

Yes, of course it's not over  until it's over and I will be there, screaming like a lunatic until it is mathematically impossible for Liverpool to clinch the title but the fact is, we messed up big time last night and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

I could go on for hours about the frustration combined with the admiration of our season but I will save that for the final match report.

I apologise for the slightly different and shorter match report today but I feel this was a better route to go down. Of course there were penalty decisions that could have gone our way but what's the point discussing them? You just can't throw away a 3-0 lead.

I asked you for your thoughts on Twitter but in the midst of many conversations on there last night I'm afraid I can't remember which ones were responses and which ones were general chit-chat. Please tweet me in your Newcastle score predictions though when I request them.

All we can do now is see what happens to City on Wednesday night, even if they do win, this title is still going to the last day of the season and Liverpool should be very proud of that.

Here's hoping for a miracle.

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Friday, 18 October 2013

Reds Face Magpies With Fitness Boost

Well, that's another international break out of the way and England's progress to Rio was of course sealed by none other than Steven Gerrard but our captain has more important things to worry about now as he looks to net his 100th league goal in Liverpool's trip to Newcastle this weekend.
I think we've really missed Glen, you don't know what you've got until it's gone in my opinion!
The one advantage of the international break for Brendan Rodgers has been that enough time has passed for three of his injured players to make a possible return. Glen Johnson, Aly Cissokho and Joe Allen are all fit according to the boss and Lucas Leiva is also back from a ban. Still out for Liverpool though are Coutinho and Coates, Iago Aspas is also suspected to be unavailable after picking up a knock.

For Newcastle they are without their captain Fabricio Coloccini who is out with a muscle problem. They are also missing Steven Taylor and Gutierrez, the latter of whom will miss the game due to a personal situation.

The last time the two sides met was near the end of last season. The game at St James' Park was a nightmare for the Magpies who failed to find the back of the net, had a man sent off and conceded six goals. On the score sheet that day was Daniel Agger, Fabio Borini and both Sturridge and Henderson who both scored a brace.

The last meeting at Anfield between the two sides was on my 23rd birthday (boo hiss boo to getting older /// 4th November). Luis Suarez scored in that game and Newcastle, despite earning a point that day, once again had a man sent off.

Newcastle have notched up wins against the Reds on their home turf in recent years though, winning in both 2010 and 2007.

Form for Newcastle shows them recording three wins out of their last five league games. Their two losses came against Everton and Hull but the Geordies still managed to score twice on both occasions. Newcastle are currently placed 11th in the table.

Liverpool on the other hand find themselves joint top with Arsenal and with the Gunnars facing Norwich at home this weekend, Liverpool need to ensure they also collect all three points. The Reds' last five games also show them winning three fixtures and then recording a loss and a draw. Liverpool may have slipped up on a couple of occasions this season but they are still going strong and with the return of some key players Liverpool you would hope will be able to walk away from St James' Park on Saturday victorious.

Stat Sandwich
  • The Reds have not lost in their last seven away games in the league.
  • Newcastle's last 12 goals in the league have all been scored by Frenchmen.
  • Liverpool have still only scored once in the second half so far this season.

As usual I sent out a tweet asking you all for your score predictions and here are a few of the tweets I received this week, thanks to all who replied!

I don't think I'm going to get chance to put a bet on tomorrow but if I could I'd be placing my quid on a 2-1 Liverpool win. I feel as though Newcastle will definitely find the back of the net but the Reds should be confident enough to score more than once and also hold on to a lead, I do feel Liverpool need to score first though.

Enjoy the match folks!
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Sunday, 4 August 2013

Captain Fantastic In Olympiakos Testimonial Win

Guard of honour for Gerrard...
Today saw our Captain Fantastic finally step out at Anfield through his guard of honour to play his long awaited and much anticipated testimonial game. The opposition carefully selected after that monumental night "ohhhhhh you beauty", the stage was set for a wonderful day at Anfield to mark the career of one of the most loyal, genuine and talented men in football; Steven Gerrard.

With training photos leaking the day before showing Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler, there was sure to be a nice little treat for the sell out crowd. It was always in Gerrard's interest to keep this clash as a proper pre-season game but with the addition of the recently retired Carra and God... Well, that was more than enough cherries on top of the cake.

I was lucky enough to be able to be present at Gerrard's testimonial and had a fantastic seat on The Kop in Block 304. I've never had chance to watch a game from The Kop so far and so you can imagine my excitement for this one. It may have been a friendly but it was a brilliant atmosphere on the whole.

Steven Gerrard of course got a standing ovation and an ear drum bursting round of applause when he entered the field. I seriously felt proud to be present for this man's testimonial, they just don't make them like him these days.

As far as the game went it was a decent friendly, Olympiakos weren't as threatening as they could have been but they had their moments and it was nice to see the well known Saviola appear for them. The bundle of Olympiakos fans who were present at Anfield too were also great sports!

For Liverpool they started without Suarez, Carragher or Fowler, though we knew Fowler wasn't going to be able to last for too long with his new belly! Haha.

It was Joe Allen first on the score sheet for the Reds, a missed chance minutes earlier that he scuffed high meant he needed to redeem himself and he certainly did after an Aspas assist allowed him an easy tap in. Allen had Liverpool in the lead.

Half time was reached without any more goal action but I'd learnt one thing from the first half, Kolo Toure is a beast! I've never seen him live, I obviously know he has real presence and power but he's soddin' massive! I was impressed with his performance.

In the second half the Anfield faithful had to wait until just past the hour mark to see Luis Suarez. The media made a big deal about the reception Suarez would get but us Liverpool fans, we're not fickle. Where's the sense in booing your best player and encouraging him to probably go on his way? Oh no, we showed that lad just where he is, where he's playing and what he'd miss. To thunderous cheers and applause Suarez entered the field and from The Kop I joined in with everybody else and belted out his song, to make sure he knows we just can't get enough. I've since seen videos of Suarez taking a long hard look at The Kop after coming on and I'm sorry, if he doesn't stay after that reception in a testimonial for Steven Gerrard then he can jog on as far as I'm concerned, good luck finding that kind of support ANYWHERE else.

Jordan Henderson also entered play replacing Joe Allen at the same time as the Suarez substitute, Luis replaced Aspas. Also subbed was Kolo Toure who made way for the stalwart Jamie Carragher, Jamie was cheered each time he touched the ball and a rendition of "team of Carraghers" was sung proudly.

Jordon Henderson though was the man taking all the focus, I'd barely sat down from the whole Suarez cheering when Henderson with his first touch of the game had smashed the ball into the back of the net, brilliant stuff! I really like Jordan and you can really see his improvements as time goes on, if he can keep working on his hesitancy as well I will be mega impressed.

Suarez played his usual game with pace and trickery but his real ambition lit up when Robbie Fowler was introduced to the game just after the 70 minute mark. Fowler's first move was to get stuck into a tackle which he won but then ended up falling over and doing a backwards gambol haha! Suarez seemed more determined to set Fowler up than to get on the score sheet himself but despite the sheer brilliance of watching God play there just wasn't going to be a goal.

Most of you will know that the reason I support Liverpool is because of my older brother supporting them when I was little, Robbie Fowler was his idol and he's gonna be well jealous when I tell him tomorrow I got to see him play!

With 5 minutes left on the clock Brendan Rodgers made the substitution that saw Jay Spearing replace Steven Gerrard. A rapturous applause and several chants of "Steve Gerrard, Gerrard!" saw the captain leave the field. It was such a superb day at Anfield and one I will never forget!

Most importantly though it's yet another pre-season win and another clean sheet for Liverpool. Here's hoping as a team we can do Gerrard proud next season and justify that loyalty he has showed the club.

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Friday, 22 February 2013

Reds Valiant Effort Couldn't Pull Them Through

Say what you want about Luis Suarez but the man lives his football...
Liverpool were just 1 goal away from progressing through to the next stage of the Europa League last night but an early mistake by stalwart Jamie Carragher made things even more difficult for the Reds. They found their 3 goals though courtesy of Luis Suarez and Joe Allen but that fourth goal remained too elusive for Brendan's boys.

Liverpool started their strongest possible side with Luis Suarez leading the line. It's been a blow not being able to start Sturridge in these fixtures and so it was clear it would fall to Suarez and Gerrard to find the back of the net unless of course a more unlikely source popped up.

Liverpool started in a very positive but slightly nervy manner in my opinion. There was such a rush to find that first goal that at times mistakes were being made, Zenit were too good a side to gift them with possession and thankfully Liverpool eventually calmed down.

It may have been the Europa League and not the Champions League that we all love so much but Anfield was still a wall of noise last night, each time a Zenit player had the ball the boos rang out, when Liverpool regained it, cheers echoed, it was just the atmosphere the lads needed to pull off what most teams would see as impossible.

Unfortunately for the Reds things didn't originally go according to plan. Just before the 20 minute mark the ball fell to Jamie Carragher, in his 150th European game and with the fans blasting out a rendition of "We all dream of a team of Carraghers" everybody knew he'd have this under control, but he didn't. A slip from the number 23 allowed Hulk through and he made no mistakes smashing his effort low into the middle of the goal.

You just couldn't make this stuff up, Jamie Carragher of all people is the man you rely on most but everybody makes mistakes and this silly one by Carra had put us in a right predicament, we started needing 3 goals and now we needed 4 but we're Liverpool and at Anfield on a night like this, anything can happen.

Just ten minutes later and Liverpool were presented with a real opportunity to get themselves off the mark. A great run all the way from defence by Daniel Agger ended with him being taken down just outside the box. Moans from Denisov meant the Zenit player was booked but despite his arguments he wouldn't be able to stop Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan stepped up to take the free kick and must have noticed the gap he was going to penetrate, in fairness it wasn't the best wall from Zenit but Suarez's intelligence allowed him to penalise them, his strike flew through the wall and past the keeper putting Liverpool back in the game, now they needed 3 goals again.

With Anfield now creating even more decibels it was only a matter of time before the consistent Liverpool pressure provided another goal. It was perfect timing really when the Reds found their second just before the half time whistle.

A pass from Enrique that deflected off a Zenit defender allowed Joe Allen a headed effort which was parried away but Allen then managed to get a foot on it and put Liverpool's second into the back of the net. Suddenly the comeback once again seemed possible, now all we need was 2 goals and we still had the whole of the second half to find them.

Zenit made two substitutions for the second half perhaps realising that they were being bullied far too much, Liverpool had real momentum now and the Russians knew it.

We had to wait until the hour mark though until our next real opportunity arose. Another free kick from just outside the area had all of the Kop praying that Luis Suarez would work some of his magic once again, and boy did he!

A simply sublime free kick from Suarez saw him send the ball curving way outside of the post only to weave back in straight into the back of the net, what a goal! Anfield went absolutely mental and so did Suarez, you could see how much he of all people wanted this, clenching his fists and screaming his head off, all we needed was 1 more goal, 1 goal after all of this effort, surely it was possible now?!

Assaidi and Shelvey were brought on just after the goal replacing Henderson and Joe Allen. Admittedly the subs weren't as effective as perhaps we all would have hoped but those people online yesterday looking for blame that shouldn't have existed and trying to pin it on Rodgers? Well they're just stupid. Shelvey should his chance of been a few more inches to the right could have been the one taking Liverpool through! But it wasn't to be.

The Reds played all the way to the whistle but Zenit were victorious on aggregate. That silly mistake from Carragher cost us and as gutted as he will be and as gutted as we all are I don't personally feel we could have asked for much more.

It's a bit cliche to say there's no other team like Liverpool when it comes to situations like this but it's true, most teams certainly wouldn't have found 3 goals under the circumstances and would have fallen at the first hurdle, we gave it our best shot but we're out, now all we can do it give it one last push in the league and see what happens.

Next up for the Reds is Wigan.

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Monday, 28 January 2013

League 1 Oldham Knock Out Lacklustre Reds

Matt Smith was brilliant for the home side...

Liverpool fell to an embarrassing defeat at Boundary Park on Sunday evening as Oldham found an early lead via their influential forward Matt Smith. The Reds found an equaliser shortly afterwards but another Smith goal in the first half left Brendan's boys with a lot of work to do. Wabara's goal in the second half rubbed even more salt into the wounds and despite a stunning Joe Allen strike late on, Liverpool just couldn't find the equaliser that would earn them a replay at Anfield.

Rodgers made some changes to the starting line up which was most notably missing the likes of Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard, although the side was slightly weakened an attack consisting of Raheem Sterling, Fabio Borini, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge meant the Reds were certainly gunning for it.

Paul Dickov set up a strong side to face Liverpool and as mentioned in the preview Wesolowski was made captain in midfield, the boyhood Liverpool fan leading the way in terms of attitude for this important FA Cup Fourth Round tie.

The game couldn't have started much worse for Liverpool who were immediately caught off guard. Matt Smith who was tipped to cause problems by more knowledgeable people than myself was trying his luck on the weakened Liverpool defence. His header fooled the back four and even a late attempt at a clearance from Martin Skrtel couldn't stop Oldham from taking the lead.

It was an unexpected situation for Liverpool to be in but of course, this was the FA Cup, you can almost guarantee that something will go against the grain. The Reds needed to react quickly. Raheem Sterling picked up a booking shortly after the goal for a foul on M'Changama the man who provided the assist for Oldham's goal would eventually leave the field being replaced by Winchester.

Oldham were certainly holding their own in the early stages of the game but when you're up against a player like Luis Suarez it's always sensible to remain alert. The Uruguayan's trickery and confidence allowed him to score low into the right of goal from inside the penalty box to give Liverpool their equaliser.

By now the Reds had steadied themselves a bit, Oldham were still causing problems but all the lads needed to do was make it to half time without conceding again, unfortunately they weren't able to do that.

Matt Smith once again brought the woes for the Reds. Creating havoc for the defence again another goal from inside the box allowed Smith to restore his side's lead just before the half time whistle.

It was frustrating to watch for Reds fans because we knew the defence was not at it's usual strength but even Martin Skrtel who is usually very reliable appeared to be having an off day. What also annoyed me was how quickly the defence became aggravated by Oldham. Dickov had obviously told his side to get stuck in before kick off and so getting on the nerves of the defenders was part of their plan, however I don't appreciate the fact that immediately after we conceded Brad Jones, Skrtel and I think Coates were going mad at an Oldham player for no reason, you could tell the game was already getting to them and Oldham could see that too so they capitalised on this.

The first half for Liverpool was defintely one to forget and it was clear that substitutions would need to be made sooner rather than later if the Reds were going to get anything out of this game. The second half started in exactly the same way as the first though and Liverpool now found themselves adrift.

An assist by Winchester enabled Reece Wabara to send in a lovely header past Brad Jones whilst the Liverpool defence stood agasp. 3-1 down against a League 1 side in the FA cup just wasn't good enough, the only positive for the Reds was that there was still enough time to do something about it.

Just before 55 minutes Brendan Rodgers made the decision to bring on Steven Gerrard and it was perhaps the best move of the game. Gerrard brought with him his famous never say die attitude and immediately there was a spark within the game. Stewart Downing was also brought into play shortly after Gerrard, he replaced Fabio Borini.

It took an improved Liverpool side a further 20 minutes after the introduction of Gerrard to find themselves a second goal. A beautiful strike taken first time from outside the area by Joe Allen flew straight into the right of goal giving Liverpool just a little bit of hope as they searched for an equaliser in the dying minutes.

The best Liverpool could offer was a stinging Steven Gerrard shot that smashed off the cross bar but by the final whistle it was Oldham who were celebrating an historic win over Premier League side Liverpool.

There's no excuses for this result, our poor defence from the onset was the root cause of the problem but the Reds should have never been in a position where they were 3-1 down. Suarez and Sturridge tried their best to get Liverpool back into the game but it just wasn't happening. Congratulations to Oldham who I am now fully backing as they face those bluenoses from over the road!

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Friday, 10 August 2012

Joe Allen: Welcome To Anfield

He looks pretty chuffed...
Liverpool have completed the signing of Joe Allen making it the shock of the century after he was spotted watching the lads versus Gomel, I hope whoever planned that one doesn't have to organise a surprise birthday party...

But nevertheless he's here and we're happy. At 22 he's a youthful signing from Brendan and of course the manager knows him extremely well from his time spent working with him at Swansea. So much for not going after their players ay? I'm sure a Christmas card to the chairman will sort everything out if they don't feel it's in their best interest.

Allen was clearly keen to link back up with his former boss but there seemed to be a bit of a tussle over the price. In the end Liverpool are believed to have paid in the region of £15million. Slightly more than I would have liked us to have paid if I'm honest but definitely not extortionate.

The midfielder is renowned for being a great passer of the ball, in a side that Brendan wants to make sure retain possession he will be invaluable. After reading several blogs on the player too (I haven't seen as much of Joe up close as I would like) it appears he not only enjoys keeping possession but if it's lost, he's the first to try and regain it. I like somebody with tenacity.

Those who chat to me on Twitter will know that my only real question about Joe was where he would fit into our midfield but after watching the Gomel game last night and chatting to a few people online it's quite evident now that he and Lucas will sit in the centre allowing Gerrard to have a lot more freedom.

Looking at it that way it's quite an exciting prospect if Joe can replicate the form he had under Rodgers at Swansea, which I'm sure he will. I'll be the first to admit I have been a bit disappointed and not very excited this transfer window but slowly things seem to be clicking in to place and I'm never a person to dive on a manager or his signings before we have seen anything.

Here's hoping Brendan Rodgers' second signing will have a good first season with the Reds.

Joe Allen on joining Liverpool - "The passion that people here have for football is something I share and I want to be part of that."

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