The Liver Bird  

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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Friday, 4 January 2019

Reds Unbeaten Run Ends At Etihad

Top of the league and still four points clear, despite losing to the champions... so why am I so frustrated? It's surely a sign of how well Liverpool are playing that I find myself annoyed at last night's result even after a night's sleep. 

Don't get me wrong, it was the correct result, City deserved to win, I just worry how that will affect our momentum and I just know what we're like. It's bizarre cause I'm usually the rose-tinted optimistic fan that gets on people's nerves on Twitter for being too positive but I think I've been scorned by that Brendan Rodgers title race and I just desperately want everything to go right, even though I know there will be blips along the way and that it will not be straightforward. 

Fabinho v Man City
Image via The Mirror
There is no shame at all in losing to Guardiola's City at the Etihad, I am just hoping we can pick up where we left off. 

For me, Jurgen Klopp took a decision to select Milner, Henderson and Wijnaldum in his midfield and I can see the thought process but I just don't think it worked.

The linkage (or lack of) between the midfield and the forwards was poor and there was a lot of negative movement either sideways or backwards, even when it appeared to the onlooker that a key through pass was available. 

Despite the midfield set up, Liverpool went agonisingly close to opening up the scoring when Sadio Mane saw a shot bounce off the post and a melee ensued. John Stones cleared off the line and somehow managed to steer the ball clear of an encroaching Salah. The goal decision system indicated the ball was just 11 millimetres away from being a Liverpool opener. Gutting. 

The first half was a very tense battle but City broke the deadlock at 40 minutes when Aguero shot high into goal from a very tight angle. I'm still not sure how he got that in. 

The Reds needed the half time whistle and needed to recoup. Klopp had clearly been thinking about his set up because at 57 minutes he replaced Milner with Fabinho. A cracking substitution with an immediate impact. I just can't help but regret the fact that the Brazilian didn't start the match. 

Just after the hour mark, Liverpool found their equaliser, a cross from Andy Robertson found its way into the box and Roberto Firmino was there to finish with a straightforward header. I went crazy. A draw here would have been a fantastic result, especially considering how the game had unfolded. 

For a while, the Reds looked as though they may have had a footing and throughout the remainder of the match chances did appear for Klopp's side including some further box madness with City at times lucky to clear the danger. 

The killer blow was delivered though by Leroy Sane at 72 minutes. An angled shot hit off the right-hand post and into the net.


A frustrating game for the Reds who could have got more out of it if the formation had been slightly different and had a bit of luck swung their way. Positively the Reds, on paper, have a decent set of fixtures now so I just hope we can crack on. 

Next up for Liverpool is Wolves in the FA Cup and I'm going! Will be sat in the North Bank trying to keep quiet with me fella and brother, should be a good laugh!!!

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Sunday, 7 October 2018

Man City At Anfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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Friday, 30 December 2016

LFC NYE

I don't know about you but I am massively excited for tomorrow's match. Any clash with City is an important one these days but on Saturday evening Liverpool need all three points in order to keep the pressure on Chelsea and distance themselves from Pep Guardiola's side.

Image via theguardian.com
The Reds go into this game having won three out of their last five games in the league. Sitting in second on 40 points, Klopp's side are just one point ahead of City in third. Pep's team have also won three out of their last five games but they have also lost twice during that time.

Injuries for Liverpool mean unfortunately Philippe Coutinho will not be fit for the match. The Brazilian has been photographed in training this week sparking rumours he may feature but Klopp has firmly put those to bed. Matip also remains unavailable so me and my mate Reece are seriously hoping the big man Klavan keeps his place in defence because after his performance against Everton we decided we'd put a fiver on him to score first and a fiver on him to score last at 50/1 on New Year's Eve haha!

Annoyingly, Sergio Aguero returns for Man City after completing his suspension and John Stones may also be newly available for the visitors. Vincent Kompany remains unfit along with Leroy Sane.

The last time the two sides met was in March this year. Liverpool put three goals past City gaining revenge after losing to them just a week earlier in the Capital One Cup final. Adam Lallana, James Milner and Roberto Firmino were on the scoresheet in March, names you would expect to be heavily involved again on Saturday night.

The Reds have won three out of their last five meetings with City at Anfield. In all five games there has been a minimum of three goals with two of the fixtures ending in a 2-2 draw. I fully expect it to be a high scoring game tomorrow and when I place a few more bets I can definitely see me putting a few quid on a 3-2 win for Liverpool. I also fancy Origi to find the back of the net, keep an eye on my Twitter to see where my money goes.

Whatever the result tomorrow it's sure to be an exciting game, Jurgen Klopp sums it up rather well I think:

"The advantage is that it's at Anfield. We must try to use this. It will be really difficult for both teams. I'm really looking forward to it. We love playing against the best."
Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!

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