The Liver Bird  

Saturday, 27 June 2020

A Lifelong Wait: Liverpool FC, Premier League Champions

30 years. A literal lifetime for me and many others. Some follow a football club because it's the team their parents support, others like me live 80 miles away from Anfield but were submerged in Kopite culture from around the age of 6 or 7, thanks to an older brother who was obsessed with the title stomping Reds.



Of course, my brother had the right idea, follow the Reds in the 70s and 80s, titles come along like buses. Look up silverware in the dictionary and you'd probably find a Liver Bird crest beneath it. Little did I know, I wouldn't enjoy this same feeling, my life as a Liverpool fan living in Wolverhampton would be an absolute emotional rollercoaster.

My first obsession over a footballer would begin with Michael Owen, he'd later break my heart, but that didn't stop me buying anything with his face on and naming my female rabbit after him. Owen tricked me into thinking this was our time. The Houllier treble convinced me that I would soon have the bragging rights. I could walk into secondary school and dish out the stick to all the kids in United shirts but no, I'd have to wait much, much longer for that.

In 2005, I sat in the living room with me Dad, taking in all the build-up to our pinnacle moment in Turkey. Led to the final by a man who can only be described as a tactical genius and the first Liverpool manager I truly loved: Rafael Benitez.

At half time, I ran to the bathroom, unable to hold back the tears after watching us go three-nil down. I didn't think I could bring myself to watch the second half but Dad with his wise words persuaded me otherwise.

By full time I was dancing in the street outside our council house, draped in the same Liverpool flag that I held aloft this Thursday just gone. The neighbours didn't understand but at that moment, that was true vindication of what it meant and how it felt to be a Liverpool fan. Even when everything is against you, you never give up, you keep fighting. I was basking in the glory of the Miracle of Istanbul, one of the greatest football matches that has ever been played.

Again, Rafa and his magic had tricked me into thinking this was our time. Liverpool would finally be able to push for that elusive Premier League title. How wrong I was. Rafa, of course, went close, but it wasn't to be.

By 2009 I had left sixth form with some dodgy A-Level results, I couldn't get into Uni and was on the dole looking for a full-time job. To keep me occupied, I set up this blog which would eventually go on to win awards, unbelievable. One of the first blog posts I put out was a description of my first ever match at Anfield in 2010, hearing You'll Never Walk Alone reverberate around L4 is still etched in my mind.

I blogged constantly, the writing was a release, I never expected though that there would be so much negative. What followed was post after post on Roy Hodgson, relegation zones, missed chances, dodgy owners, court cases, utterly terrible signings and no real light at the end of the tunnel. Still, the wait went on.

By 2012 I'd completed a college course and got into University. I was chuffed to bits, but while a big part of my life off the pitch was somehow getting itself in order, could it be as Liverpool announced Brendan Rodgers as the new boss, Liverpool were getting themselves in order too?

It didn't take Rodgers long to provide us Kopites with a serious, serious title challenge. By the end of the 2013-2014 season, I had written the following in a summary blog post: "I'll never forget coming so close to the title with Rodgers, I'm 26 in November and that is easily (aside from the Champions League final in 2005) the most excited I have ever been as a Liverpool fan."

It truly felt like the tides had turned when the Northern Irishman steered us so close that season. But, you guessed it, I'd fooled myself again into thinking this could actually be happening, the title had never felt so far away by the time Rodgers was sent packing in October 2015. 

Gerrard said goodbye and over the years we'd lost some of the iconic players who I associated Liverpool with while growing up. There was no Carragher anymore, no Gerrard, no Owen, Fowler or even Riise (another player I was obsessed with). Yes, there'd been the likes of Torres, Suarez, Alonso, even Dirk Kuyt and some brought a sparkle to Anfield that made you believe but only for a moment.

It would take a complete change of tack, a new manager with new ideas, and a set of owners willing to throw in some cash in order to create the catalyst.

In October 2015, "The Normal One" showed up at Anfield. I can't deny that if you went searching through the blog's archive you would find a paragraph somewhere where I said, in a choice between Ancelotti and Klopp, I'd lean more towards the Italian. Thank god the club chose Jurgen...

As Liverpool supporters, it's never been just the football that moulds you into a fan. The Hillsborough Disaster happened in April 1989, seven months before I was born, but a story my Mom recalls reeling at after seeing it on the news. On that day, 95 football fans went to a game and never returned home, a 96th victim would later lose his battle in hospital. In 2016, after an agonising fight for justice, a jury concluded that the fans were unlawfully killed. Raw emotion of a different kind. Justice for the 96.

By the end of the 2015-2016 season, Klopp had taken us to two finals, the League Cup and the Europa League. His impact was almost instant and although we lost those finals and there were a few initial hiccups at the start (some of which I probably also discussed on the blog), it soon became clear that this man had a plan.

His rapport with the players was phenomenal, his understanding of the club and the fans? Perfect. He knew exactly what he wanted to build and how he wanted to build it. Rival fans scoffed at us spending megabucks on the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson but Klopp knew precisely where his team's flaws lay, he addressed them and boy did it work.

As a Liverpool fan, I spent the majority of the 2018 - 2019 season with a massive grin on my face. Yes, I'd faced heartbreak the year before watching Mo Salah leave the pitch injured and crying in the Champions League final but this season felt different. It felt as though we were finally ready. I believed again.

A phenomenal effort saw Klopp's side finish on a massive 97 points, just one sole point behind City. In the years gone by, we'd finished second on a handful of occasions in my time as a Liverpool fan, but I never truly went into the following season thinking we could surmount a credible title challenge, the Rodgers season was probably the closest I'd felt to that.

This time though, I knew we'd be battling for it. The trio of Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were virtually unstoppable, we'd purchased a brick wall and plonked him in the centre of defence and our goalkeeper was the best in the world. It was time.

I hoped it would be our season but I could never have predicted the distance we would put between ourselves and the opposition this time around. We're yet to know the points gap we've won by but to finish with seven games to go as Champions? This is the stuff dreams are made of.

In March, the horrendous Coronavirus pandemic that has shaken the world put things into perspective. I love my football club and I struggled to function without them but some things were more important.

The rumours of "null and void" began to swirl and I just kept thinking, that would be peak Liverpool, wouldn't it? My time as a Red has taught me that things often go against you and the asterisk brigade were out in force. "Oh if you're gifted the title it won't be a REAL title." I was fuming, I'd not waited 30 years for some tin pot fans to spout "fake title" at me for the rest of time. Thankfully, football was allowed to safely restart.

The Reds took a game to settle in after a draw with Ancelotti's Everton (can't say I predicted he'd end up at Goodison when I was considering him as our own boss) but won emphatically against Crystal Palace. The gauntlet was laid.

Fast-forward 15 years on from when I was a tearful almost 16-year-old, sat at my parents' house, wrapped in that Liverpool flag, praying for the right result to gift us the first huge trophy I'd seen us lift. Here I was, now in my own flat living with me Wolves mad fiance, sat on the floor, wrapped in that same flag, nerves shot to pieces.

There'd been several points over those 30 years that I'd convinced myself I will never see my side lift the Premier League title, but in the moments I believed we may do it I never accounted for the fact our victory could be confirmed by the result of our rivals match.

It was a bizarre evening Thursday night, watching on a phone screen, I squinted to make sure Willian's penalty had definitely gone in and that the crowd noise bloke hadn't accidentally pressed the wrong button again. It was in, and there were 10 minutes to go. 

I'd held back the tears at this point but after screaming my head off at the final whistle I switched over to Sky on the tele. A montage of Liverpool from the year I was born to the present day was shown and I was an absolute mess. 

This is me moments after our first Premier League title win was confirmed.



A lifelong wait, but nobody can ever, ever take that feeling away from me, pure and utter joy.

I drank and danced around the living room well into the early hours, despite having work the next day. While I dreamt of celebrating in Liverpool, in the end, it didn't matter, I was elated.

I just hope I don't have to wait another 30 years for the next one...

#YNWA

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Friday, 12 June 2020

Liverpool FC, Lockdown and Mental Health

There are just five days until Premier League football is back in our lives and nine days until Liverpool line up against Everton in the Merseyside derby. The UK has been in lockdown for close to 12 weeks and a Premier League ball hasn't been kicked since Monday 9th March.

For many, the lack of football will have been a blessing but for those like myself who class the sport as one of their true loves in life, this has been a difficult time to say the least. I don't think anyone could have predicted the impact a lack of football could have on a fan's mental health and well being.

Image via Science Focus
Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not somebody who has suffered with significant mental health issues (though I know plenty who have) but I think the lack of football, the lack of a routine, something to look forward to, has had a significant impact on my personal mental health.

Football is escapism in its purest form, unlike a film or a TV show, you can't successfully predict the outcome. You're taken on a ride, through a rollercoaster of emotions, you're often shouting expletives at the opposition but this is a release and without it, without this release of emotions and the experience of the highs, something huge is removed from your life - it's only natural that you then struggle in its absence.

Pile onto this the fact you couldn't leave your house aside from one bit of exercise initially, maybe you've been furloughed, maybe all your mates don't live close enough for you to have a socially distanced BBQ... and all of a sudden you've created the perfect storm.

It's for this reason, and I know I am not alone in this, that the feeling of relief knowing that Liverpool will be back on our screens in less than 10 days is an immense one. 

It's not just fans who have struggled through this Coronavirus lockdown, players have suffered too. Liverpool were reported to have provided mental health advice to players early on including breathing exercises and social media advice. It's also been reported that players who were close to the end of their contracts have had significant mental struggles and have been reaching out for support.

I was reading some very interesting snippets from Kevin George who is an ex-professional and mental health in football expert (I need to check out his book "Soccology") and for me he hit the nail on the head:

"Coronavirus has taken everyone out of their routine and this is what can bring problems. People get lost without the comfort of their schedule or what their schedule may be protecting them from for example sitting with thoughts. Creating a schedule also puts control back in your hands instead of sitting in uncertainty, waiting for updates."

Football forms a huge part of that "schedule" for me and I know for many others and so taking it day by day and forming a plan for each day has been a real coping mechanism.

For anybody struggling with mental health issues I highly recommend the Mind website which is packed with superb advice. The NHS also produced "10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus".

Looking ahead, when football does restart next week. As a Liverpool fan born in 1989 I have literally been waiting my whole life to watch us lift the Premier League title. You couldn't have ever predicted that a pandemic would delay proceedings but I suppose after waiting for that long, I can wait a while longer.

After it was confirmed recently that the Reds will be able to play the Merseyside Derby at Goodison and not at a neutral venue, it could be that this is where Jurgen Klopp and the boys claim the title. This is dependent upon the Manchester City v Arsenal result on Wednesday.

I've dreamed of this moment for years, we've come close on occasion, Gerrard's slip still causes a physical pained reaction whenever I see it but it'll all have been worth the wait after the way this year has unfolded. 

Yes if we don't win it at Goodison we win it in another empty stadium with fake fan cheers and no opportunity to gather and celebrate but at this stage, I don't care, to watch us lift the title after lockdown will be phenomenal. Cider will be flowing, Si Senor, You'll Never Walk Alone and the Mo Salah chant will be sung, it will be an emotional moment for all Liverpool fans and I for one cannot wait.

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Sunday, 5 April 2020

TWO MORE GAMES

TWO MORE GAMES. 

That's what I was saying to myself over and over again approximately four weeks ago. At the time I had shared the below on social media, which unfortunately now sounds more like a distasteful joke but this was genuinely how I was feeling. The club I had supported and followed my whole life, a full 30 years, had got within touching distance of lifting their first Premier League title and then a pandemic breaks out.


You just couldn't write it, it's peak Liverpool. Throughout the years, the club and football as a sport has faced some torrid times but to throw around what I'm sure will be the word of the year for 2020... this is unprecedented.

After what has happened in Britain and across the globe over the past few weeks, it does really make you take a step back and think about the vital things in life. Bill Shankly once said "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that." On this occasion, I have to disagree with the great Shanks. 

Interestingly, it's the great man himself though who has really got me thinking about the latest decision from our wonderful football club. The club this week has decided to take advantage of the Government furlough scheme in order to assist with paying its non-playing staff. While the scheme is there to help those employees from all companies who may suffer during this crisis, it seems immoral for a club that checked in around £40million plus in profit last year to take this route when so much more could be done. It goes against everything the club, the city and its fans stand for and I truly hope another conclusion is reached.

"The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It's the way I see football, the way I see life." - Bill Shankly

Away from the club's current stance of furloughing, one man who has made me immensely proud is our captain Jordan Henderson. It was revealed this week that the skipper is working to set up a fund for NHS workers by speaking regularly with captains from other Premier League clubs. This is the example Liverpool should be setting.

Image source: Liverpool Echo
With no real indication of when it may be safe to restart the Premier League and football across the country in general, while I am desperate to see my boys back in action (I heard YNWA on a quiz show midweek and nearly started crying!) this whole situation has made me realise how lucky we are and it really makes you take stock and value the smaller things in life.

All I do hope is that Liverpool are given the opportunity to earn that trophy, I do not want to be gifted the Premier League title and do not feel it is right to scrap the whole season. Next season hasn't yet begun so sort out what's happening in the here and now before you go looking to plan ahead.

I don't know when, but at some point this year, Jurgen Klopp and his phenomenal Redmen will lift that elusive piece of silverware. I always thought I would cry when we won the league but as this season went on, the Reds were making it far too easy, the raw emotion of going so close in the 2018/2019 season was absent so I was beginning to think the waterworks wouldn't happen. I'm almost certain now though, after everything that has happened, seeing Jordan Henderson lift that cup will not just be a true sense of happiness, it will symbolise a return to normality and I will never look at life or football in the same way again.

Stay safe folks, stay home. YNWA.

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Sunday, 29 December 2019

Liverpool 1 Wolves 0 / Four Things We Learned From Liverpool's 2019

I haven't blogged in two months... what an absolute shambles.

I've been stupidly busy and tied up with switching jobs etc and I guess I'm learning that blogging is something I adore but that it's ok to blog less frequently.

Anyway, I figured what better way to round up Liverpool's 2019 than with a post after just watching us beat my future husband's team haha.

The Reds managed to get the better of Nuno's side with a slim 1-0 victory at Anfield on Sunday evening. While I feel Liverpool commanded the game in terms of possession and playing the ball out from defence, I don't feel we were entirely in control.


A weakened Wolves side after their emphatic win over Manchester City still posed a real threat for Jurgen Klopp's team and were, as predicted, difficult to beat. Sadio Mane celebrated his goal for a second time after the smiles were initially cut short when VAR was called in for a handball decision. It clearly hit Lallana's shoulder and so the goal was awarded.

However, the real controversy happened just before half time when Neto scored for the visitors. He received some stick online for an over zealous celebration but he had netted what he believed to be his first goal in the Premier League. That was until the tape measure was brought out again.

I understand the offside rule, if you're offside you're offside end of. However, the offside rule was introduced in a time before VAR, in an attempt to prevent goal hanging and to decrease the advantage of the attacker but I ask you this since when did being offside by an armpit give any sort of advantage to an attacker??

Offside I don't believe was ever meant to be studied and measured to the millimetre and if VAR is here to stay (I personally wish it wasn't but that's another story) then perhaps the offside rule needs updating.

Nevertheless, Wolves may feel hard done by, I've felt the same with similar decisions earlier this season, but rules are rules and that's what VAR is following so the goal was correctly ruled out.

As for all that talk about Virgil potentially hand balling, he didn't so just don't even start with that.

As the second half played out and Wolves brought on the 100% pure muscle Adama Traore some significant chances were created but Nuno's side just couldn't seem to convert.

All of this means Liverpool at the time of writing after collecting another three points, sit unbeaten at the top of the table, 14 points clear of Manchester City and 13 points clear of Leicester... I'm not saying it.

So, what have we learnt from Liverpool's 2019?

1) Tenacity, we do not know when we are beaten

It wasn't so long ago when I would watch Liverpool go down in a match or spend half an hour at 0-0 and look as though they had no route through. I've always believed in my side but it's only really in 2019 that this side that Klopp has built has made itself truly formidable.

Teams have thrown everything at us, from England, from Europe, from the World, but they can't stop us. The chips can be down and the tiredness setting in but this team will never give up, a late goal will come, there's sheer belief that we will be victorious.

It's so refreshing to see.

2) Champions of Europe, Champions of the World

A year ago it was heartbreak, I spent the majority of summer 2018 hoping Ramos gained a career-ending injury and at the time, despite knowing how good we were, just couldn't see us getting to the Champions League final again.

But we bloody well did and we did it in style. That match against Barcelona (other than the 2005 final in Istanbul) is the most exciting and ridiculous Liverpool game I have ever watched in all my life. Absolutely phenomenal and again proving we just don't know when we are beaten.

The Champions League win was nothing short of what Liverpool deserved after finishing so agonisingly close to winning the Premier League title.

More silverware followed as Adrian the hero in goal helped us lift the UEFA Super Cup and then we travelled to Qatar in December and just casually became literally the best team in the world.

3) A team of stars

In years gone by Liverpool have never been short of stars, there's always been one or two diamonds within the team. Think of your Gerrard's, Torres', Suarez's. What hasn't happened for a very long time though is for Liverpool to have a team full of stars, players other clubs are desperate to have and that fellow professionals rate very highly.

In 2019, Liverpool had seven players on the finalist list for the Ballon d'Or and let's face it, the only reason Virgil van Dijk didn't win is because he's a defender and apparently if you don't score goals you don't deserve awards in football.

4) Use of the squad

Klopp has found a way to bring in star quality, retain star quality and keep that star quality happy, even when they're sat on the bench. This may not seem like a skill or a lesson learnt but for me 2019 showed how important the ability to rotate and utilise the squad was and Klopp is a master at it.

The prime example for me was Divock Origi, at the start of last season, I genuinely had forgotten Divock was even on our books. By mid-2019 I was considering tattooing his name on my arm haha.

A squad player who often was found sitting on the bench yet on every single occasion he was called into action he gave his absolute all. He was pivotal in Liverpool's 2019.

Roll on 2020. Have a bloody fab new year all!

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Saturday, 19 October 2019

Back On Our Perch?

I was about 13 when Ferguson talked about knocking Liverpool off their f**cking perch and for the past 17 years, I've had to live with Manchester United fans making that well and truly known at every single opportunity.

Fast forward to today and the tables have turned but while I have had to sit and take the stick for over a decade where are all the United fans now? Where are the 18-year-old lads on Facebook who used to wax lyrical about Wayne Rooney, where are the "Beckham" replica shirt wearers that used to crowd the local pub? I'll tell you where... in hiding, cause they can't hack it.

Image via The Mirror

This Manchester United side is absolutely abysmal yet weirdly, as Kopites, we still find ourselves concerned about the trip to Old Trafford. Why is that?

Well, I'll tell you why, it's because as a Liverpool fan who's about to turn 30, I can count on one hand the times I remember watching the Reds win at the self-titled "Theatre of Dreams". It just doesn't happen and it hasn't happened in five years.

Last season despite Klopp's side picking up a whopping 97 points, the game at Old Trafford was absolutely horrendous. A terrible advert for football with arguably two of the biggest sides in the world game seeing out a 0-0 draw. Absolute snore-fest.

This season though, the gulf has widened, it's more of an abyss to be honest. United, with Ole at the wheel, at the time of writing are one point away from the relegation zone. Liverpool, on the other hand, are unbeaten and five points clear at the top of the table.

United look soulless and even after bringing in players like Harry Maguire and Wan-Bissaka it doesn't appear to have been enough to solve the situation. With rumours Paul Pogba may or may not be fit to start and also the influential David De Gea unable to play this surely should be a chance for Liverpool to add another Old Trafford victory to the list?

I sometimes feel like as Liverpool fans we're scared to be confident, we've learnt from experience that it's better to wait until after the event but I'm sorry, if I'm not allowed to feel confident as European Champions sitting pretty on our perch going into a game against a piss poor Man United side then when can I feel confident?

Whatever happens tomorrow I trust the Reds will give it their all. Part of me wonders whether Solskjaer will opt park the bus tomorrow but will the United faithful really accept watching their beloved team defend in desperation against a swift Liverpool attack for 90 minutes? I'm not so sure.

Roll on kick-off, if we're going to stay on our f**cking perch and keep Man City at bay, we need this one.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Three Times Liverpool V Arsenal Was Awesome For The Neutral

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

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

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

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 3 - Friday 22nd December 2017

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

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

Image via Sky Sports

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

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

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

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4 - Sunday 14th August 2016

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

Image via The Independent

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

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

Liverpool 3 Arsenal 3 - Wednesday 13th January 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Adrian Saves Final Peno To Gift Reds The Super Cup

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

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

Image via standard.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liverpool: Super Cup Winners 2019.

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Saturday, 10 August 2019

Alisson Injured In Norwich Win

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

Image via sports.yahoo.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, 8 August 2019

Reds Open The Premier League Season Against Norwich

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

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

Image via premierleague.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, 4 August 2019

Five Things We Learned From The Community Shield

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

Image via mirror.co.uk

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

So what did we learn from the loss?

1) There's still nothing really separating these teams

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

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

2) Reds missed Mane

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

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

3) Defensive goal

Image via telegraph.co.uk

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

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

4) Bobby and Mo look sharp

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

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

5) The bench is looking strong

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

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

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Thursday, 1 August 2019

Community Shield: Does it matter for Liverpool?

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

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

Image via eurosport.com

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

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

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

Will they feature?

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

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

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

When is a signing not a signing?

When they're 16 apparently. 

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

Image via skysports.com

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

Game on

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

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

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

P.s.

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

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

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Sunday, 2 June 2019

In Madrid, We Won It Six Times

Saturday 1st June, not a date a few weeks back I thought would be important to Liverpool but after the Reds overturned a 3-0 deficit against the mighty Barcelona, June 1st became vitally important.

As a Liverpool fan from Wolverhampton whenever the lads get to a final I always try to travel up to Liverpool so I can soak up the second best atmosphere. Obviously, Madrid would be the dream but that's practically impossible for somebody like me so Liverpool, a city I love so dearly is ALWAYS the next best option.

Last year for the final I booked a hotel after the final whistle of the semi-final first leg but this year we couldn't do that so we had to draft in the fella to be designated driver. I always knew there was a positive to him being a Wolves fan haha. But seriously, massive thanks to the fella!

So it was set, me, the fella, me brother and my mate Reece would all travel up for the final again. Last year we watched at Camp and Furnace but again this year I was a bit slow on the uptake and tried for two weeks to find a ticketed screening somewhere, eventually I got us tickets at Mulholland Diner which to be honest isn't your most obvious place to watch the match but I knew that anywhere you watched in Liverpool would be awesome.

Travelling up I opted for honey JD and coke in a water bottle to settle the nerves. It's weird since we drew Spurs in the final I immediately felt more nervous, more nervous than I think I would have been if it were Ajax. I think it was just the element of English and well-known opposition, we'd finished so far ahead of Spurs in the league, this would be a disaster if victory went to the London club.

Arriving in Liverpool about 1pm after blasting out Si Senor on repeat for the dying moments of the journey, I was super excited now but we still had hours until kick off. 

We started at The Richmond Hotel, the rain had finally died off so we stood in the street enjoying a cider. Reece gave another Liverpool fan a leg up so he could stick his ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ flag in the sign of a closed down shop. It was a good atmosphere and you could feel the tension building. 

To ease the nerves yet again I then had to go for a food stop. Those who follow me on Twitter will have seen the jacket potato saga unfold. On the fridge in our new flat we have a meal planner and the week of the Barcelona second leg I'd written "jacket potatoes" for tea that night and next to it "Champions League, need a miracle!". Of course, that miracle went on to happen and I had convinced myself it was because of the jacket potatoes.


I knew on Saturday I would have to have one so we made a pit stop and I tucked into mine about 3 in the afternoon. 

Next we popped over towards the docks and had one at the pumphouse, I like the beer garden here so it was nice to have another bevvie and enjoy the view. Eventually, we started heading towards Mulholland as we were allowed to enter from 6pm and I wanted to make sure we watched the build up etc. On the way we went to see the madness of Concert Square, there must have been thousands crammed in singing and chanting, just a brilliant sight. A bit further down the road, some lads were playing football in the street until one of them kicked it onto a shop roof... a chorus of boos followed. 

While trying to get to Mulholland we decided to go around Concert Square just to make it a bit easier and I'm glad we did because that's when we stumbled on Slater Street. I've been to Liverpool a hell of a lot over the years but for some reason I'd never been in this area, we stopped for some drinks on Slater Street at a bar that had a table right on its frontage, as the afternoon went on Slater Street got more and more full.


It was bloody brilliant here, the chants began of Si Senor, You'll Never Walk Alone and Virgil van Dijk. Flares were let off and the Don't Buy The Sun flag made an appearance. It was such a great atmosphere and I was chuffed we'd stumbled upon it. 

Then it was pretty much time to go to Mulholland. It was definitely a bit of a strange place to watch the football but there was a good atmosphere and we also got a free drink ticket which was a nice touch. I managed to get a good spot right in front of the big screen with a good portion of side space for drinks haha.

Earlier in the day, I'd purchased a Jurgen Klopp mask and I'm so glad I did because it went down a treat in the streets and in the pubs.

Kick off drew closer and closer and all I kept thinking was Liverpool thoroughly deserve to win this cup, after the season we'd had I just couldn't face losing to Spurs.

The big news team-wise was that Firmino started for us and Kane made the start for Spurs and before you know it, it was time for kick off.

I'd barely had chance to settle the nerves before Sadio Mane had won us a penalty with a handball from Sissoko. To be honest I thought this was quite a harsh decision but did I care? Not one bit.

I'd opted for my purple Liverpool shirt this year on purpose because it's the one I have with Salah on the back. Watching him go off in tears last year was heartbreaking and I wanted this final to be a special one for him, hopefully with a goal. As he stepped up for the penalty I knew he wouldn't miss and Mulholland went mental at the fact Liverpool were already 1-0 up after just two minutes. 

The early goal was massive for the Reds and most would have thought this would be a boost for Klopp's side to quickly find the net again but quite the opposite happened. Liverpool struggled to maintain possession against Spurs and the London side looked the more effective in the first half, the score remained 1-0 but I felt extremely nervous for almost the entirety of that match.

Substitutions for Liverpool meant Firmino was replaced with Origi and Wijnaldum replaced with Milner (Gomez also appeared very late on). 

I have to confess that right at the start of this season I genuinely forgot that Divock Origi was still a Liverpool player. He'd failed previously to really make a mark on the side but this season he's been an absolute revelation, the goal against Everton alone was enough to add him to the folklore but his inspired performance against Newcastle which could have proved vital and his two goals in the inspirational win against Barcelona have cemented the fact that Origi is a force to be reckoned with.

When he entered play on Saturday you just had the feeling he would have a say in this final and at 87 minutes he found the back of the net. A low and powerful shot was too much for Hugo Lloris and the goal had all but ended Spurs' dreams.


The final whistle blew and I screamed my head off in Mulholland, it just felt like a justification of this team and the manager's efforts during 2018/2019. I fear that a loss in this final could have been extremely damaging but the sheer delight on everyone's faces when Jordan Henderson lifted that trophy a few minutes later shows to me a team that is utterly unified. Why would you leave this side now? And why would you not want to come and be a part of this story?

A sixth European Cup for the club means Jurgen joins an elite list and whatever happens, he will be remembered forever. Simply superb.

Due to having a designated driver we had to head back home from Liverpool on the night but the walk from Mulholland to Lime Street Car Park was just brilliant. I wore my Klopp mask most of the way, holding up six digits and dishing out high fives. Singing ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ as hundreds of fans filtered out into the street.


I'm gutted I can't be there for the parade but I'm about to watch on TV. Just a world class day for me yesterday and may we have more of those to come!

I bloody love you Liverpool!!! #6Times 

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Saturday, 18 May 2019

97 Points: Season Highlights

What a season, to have finished on 97 points but still not win the league just shows how phenomenal Liverpool have had to be in order to keep up with Manchester City and Pep Guardiola.

Opposition fans can continue to try and wind us up all they want with their claim we were 10 points clear (we weren't) and their accusations of us bottling it but they're just miffed that they can no longer take the mick out of this football club because they're an absolute gulf away from us. 

Image via The Independent
To celebrate the season I thought I'd do a blog post with a few of my highlights from 2018/2019 and of course we still have that massive Champions League final to look forward to!

Thanks for reading this season folks, as you've probably noticed I don't get chance to blog anywhere near as much as I used to and 2019 has been crazy! I moved out of the parents' house, got another promotion and also got engaged so it's all been going on! While I may not blog as often you will still definitely see me writing as it's something I've always enjoyed.

Let me know what your highlights of the season were on Twitter: @LFCKirstyLFC

Personal Highlights:

Sturridge equaliser against Chelsea

Way back in September, Liverpool had started the season well and I was out for the weekend in London with me fella and our mates. We'd booked tickets to see Thriller Live and I didn't realise that the time would mean we'd miss most of the match.

Having managed to watch the first half in the hotel we had to set out to get to the theatre but phone signals were shocking and I was struggling to keep up to speed with the score. I knew when I left we were 1-0 down but basically didn't know much else at all.

We'd joined the queue for the theatre behind a family and all I could do was wait and hope that eventually I got signal, but I never did. Then out of nowhere, the bloke in front pulled his phone out his pocket and said "ohh blady ell Daniel Sturridge has equalised in the last minute" (he was a Chelsea fan). I'm like "what?!" shouting get in and doing the Sturridge dance, this poor bloke must have hated me but I couldn't help it, even at that stage of the season, for me I knew how massive it was for us to continue to pick up points and that Sturridge goal was huge. Even better when I finally got to see it haha.

The Everton goal

It's December, it's a chilly one and I'm in The George Wallis in Wolverhampton, one of my favourite places to watch the footy. There's barely anyone in the pub today which is strange cause it's often rammed. Despite this, there is an Everton fan, a huge Everton fan, so much so that he blasted out Z-cars off his phone in the pub prior to kick off.

Fair enough I thought, this could be an interesting one. I didn't for one second think Everton would actually cause us any bother but they did! The game dragged on and on and on but Liverpool could not find the back of the net. This match at Anfield began to feel like a banana skin and I just didn't want to deal with the backlash from this now steadily drunk Evertonian in the pub.

But, in the 96th minute, out of absolutely nowhere, a spooned shot from Virgil van Dijk found its way towards goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Most players in a Red shirt had already turned back expecting the final whistle and an easy catch for the keeper but Pickford cocked it up and who was waiting? Divock Origi. I went absolutely crazy but not as crazy as the Everton fan he was shoving the table and chairs out the way, throwing the menus on the floor, hilarious!

Pickford's puzzled face was an absolute picture!

Spurs late win

It was Mother's Day and I'd moved out of the parent's house at this stage of the season so I popped round to Mom and Dad's to see me Mom and watch the match.

My poor old Mom was basically deafened by 90 minutes. At this stage against Spurs I truly felt like we simply had to keep winning, I knew realistically we'd still be dropping points but this game felt huge and when Moura cancelled out Firmino's goal after 70 minutes I just felt absolutely gutted.

I was sat on the edge of me Mom's sofa biting all my nails off just hoping and praying there would be another chance. At this stage we were piling the pressure on City and a another win would have been massive.

At 90 minutes it came, Liverpool sure know how to wreck your nerves. Salah headed towards goal after a great cross from Trent and while the goal went down as Alderweireld it was the Egyptian who caused all the havoc. I screamed my bloody head off, jumping round me Mom's living room absolutely elated. I don't think she'd expect anything less from me on Mother's Day to be fair! Haha.

The Barcelona masterclass

Unbelieveable. Still as I type this I cannot believe what Liverpool did that night. Those who know me and those who follow the blog will know that I'm ever the optimist and a very rose-tinted fan but not even I thought we could actually get through that night.

I genuinely thought we'd score and I knew we'd give it a bloody good go but I couldn't convince myself that Barcelona would fail to find the net, that's why it was so hard to take when Liverpool played so well at the Nou Camp but failed to get an away goal.

As I sat down in the Cleveland (another one of my favourite pubs to watch football in), I always sit in the same spot on the stage/dancefloor area right in front of the big drop down screen. I'd got my ciders ready and I'd had a belly full of pub grub, sod it I thought, if we go out let's go out with a bang.

Of course, what followed was simply stunning. After just seven minutes Divock Origi had scored for the Reds, without Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool were reliant on players who don't necessarily get the game time but Divock, as he has proved every time he's been called upon this season, was fully capable of finding the net.

I looked at the fella and sort of pulled a "here we go" face, we were still in dreamland at this point if we truly thought we could silence Barcelona but if we had any chance at all that early goal would help us massively.

The Reds, despite their efforts, then failed to find the net for the remainder of the first half. To add to this, Luis Suarez had also injured the influential Andy Robertson meaning Gini Wijnaldum had to take his place.

Barca were probably dead chuffed at this sub, Robbo had been creating issues for them all night. Little did they know the Dutchman had plans to break their hearts.

Gini scored twice within two minutes and I simply could not believe what I was watching. I screamed like I've never screamed before, I'd seen Liverpool pull off some stunning results but this was special. So special that I was practically crying at this point, my voice was breaking as I tried to speak to my brother on the phone who was watching elsewhere "I car (can't in yam-yam speak) believe it, I car believe this!" I kept saying.

Then came the icing on the cake, the ticket to Madrid, the final that Liverpool thoroughly deserved as Divock Origi found his second of the night and left the travelling Barca fans absolutely gobsmacked.

I will never forget that match and after the season Liverpool have had, I hope we end the season with number 6!

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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The Miracle Of Anfield

Liverpool are in the Champions League final. I've had to start this blog post with that sentence because I still can't quite believe it. Liverpool, a side who last week were written off by the footballing world, have overcome a 3-0 deficit to beat Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield in what is arguably the greatest comeback in the sport.

Image via The Express
Those who read my blogs or follow me on Twitter will know I'm quite a rose-tinted fan, I'm the one always searching for a positive or something to cling on to, even when the chips are down. On Tuesday though, not even I seriously thought we could do something about this semi-final. I held on to a glimmer of hope and kept saying "you never know" but I never truly thought we'd be able to prevent Barcelona from scoring and find the net on enough occasions to make Madrid.

The only way we could do it, if we were going to complete this miracle, was to find an early goal I knew that much. So we did, Divock Origi the absolute hero latched onto a ball splayed out from the Barca keeper after he attempted to save a Henderson shot. Divock netted after just seven minutes and Liverpool had immediately laid down their intentions on this match.

Anfield was absolutely buzzing, what I would have given to be there, the atmosphere on a European night at that ground is unrivalled on a night like Tuesday. Say what you want but no team wants to come to Anfield for a European game, not even Barca who are 3-0 up in a semi-final.

The early goal seemed to stun Barca, their players looked deflated instantly, despite the fact they still had a two-goal advantage and an away goal on their part could change everything. They'd rested all XI players in their last league match and had the likes of Messi and Suarez to call upon but we made the Spanish side look bang average.

Liverpool continued to play calmly in the first half, creating chances and raising the heartbeats of Kopites all over the globe, but it wouldn't be until nine minutes into the second half when the Reds found themselves a second. 

Gini Wijnaldum with a powerful shot in the centre of the box fizzed one home for the Reds having only just entered play. The Dutchman replaced Andy Robertson who picked up an injury during the first half.

Gini is one of those players that everybody loves but he's not really known for scoring goals. He changed that on Tuesday evening against one of the best teams in the world because just minutes later, he scored again.

A lovely cross from Shaqiri on the left was placed perfectly for Gini who rose with a powerful header to take the game to 3-0. Absolutely phenomenal. At this point I'm not afraid to admit, I was basically crying with joy. I could not believe what I was seeing. Over the years I've watched Liverpool pull off some astonishing results but surely to god we couldn't find our way to this year's Champions League final? Surely heartbreak was awaiting.

I tried to calm down, I was shaking like a leaf and was screaming, literally screaming like a child at every goal. This game was insane but even with the Reds now 3-0 up and shooting towards a raucous Kop End, it would only take a goal from Barcelona to spoil the party. Barcelona, one of the best teams in world football.

The thing was though, Barcelona were far from the Barcelona we know, as mentioned previously, even after the first goal they looked utterly deflated. At 3-0 it started to look like they'd ran out of ideas, the pressure of the Anfield atmosphere along with the high intensity of all of our lads was just too much for them to deal with, they didn't have a second to breathe or even think straight.

Then, a twenty-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold walked over to the corner, a scouser through and through, at Liverpool Football Club from the age of six. He drops the ball down in the corner, casually starts walking away as if Shaqiri's going to take it but he's spotted Divock, he knows he's free. A quick return to the corner flag sees him whip the ball into the Belgian who finishes perfectly in front of the Kop. Barcelona caught with their pants well and truly down.

At this stage I'd gone wild, I mean I was already pretty wild for the three previous goals but this was the point when I actually, truly thought we could be in that final in Madrid. The sheer audacity of Trent to even try that?! 

I watch most of our matches with me fella but as you all know he's a massive Wolves fan (bit awkward next week!!!) so while he enjoys watching Liverpool with me, he doesn't really care about results. For some reason I just resort to attacking him in these massive games. Jumping all around him, ruffing up his hair, punching him in the arm, slapping him on the legs hahaha it's the adrenaline, I have to release it somehow and he's just there or sometimes it's me brother haha!

I genuinely at points on Tuesday night felt like I was about to faint, what I was witnessing was so special and the reactions to each goal just got bigger and bigger and bigger. Just a phenomenal evening of football.

The final whistle about 15 minutes after Liverpool's fourth confirmed the fact that nobody could quite believe: Liverpool would be 2019 Champions League finalists.

I spent the majority of the following day at work in a daze with a Barry White tone to my voice from all the screaming. Even typing this now at 8:30pm on Wednesday evening, I still can't quite believe it but I am massively excited.

Whatever happens on Sunday now, we have a final in Europe to look forward to and I can't say that's something I was expecting.

The Miracle of Anfield.

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