The Liver Bird  

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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Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Wolves 2 Liverpool 1: My Nightmare In The North Bank

Well, it's the morning after the night before as I type this and I'm still not quite sure why I voluntarily put myself through that match sat in the home end...

As you all know by now I'm surrounded by Wolves fans in my life so for a laugh and to ensure I took a chance to see us in the flesh (I don't get to go to matches very often) I figured I'd sit in the north bank with me fella and me brother. What an ordeal that was. 

Image via Independent
When the team sheets came out it was clear that Nuno had decided to go for it with Wolves after he named a very strong XI with perhaps the keeper Ruddy being the main notable change. Liverpool, on the other hand, had started a very weakened team but even with the changes, I was looking at names like Shaqiri and Sturridge thinking yeah, we have enough to cause concern here against a strong Wolves side.

That isn't how it panned out though. The game started badly for the Reds as Lovren had to be subbed off after just six minutes with an injury, this adds even more to our growing defensive absentee list. The only saving grace was that 16-year-old Ki Jana Hoever was brought on in his place and the youngster did extremely well. 

The first half was absolute crap. Both teams were unable to really string anything of importance together and to be honest, I was struggling to see where a goal was coming from for us, it was a very poor first half from the Reds. 

At 38 minutes Wolves found an opening goal thanks to Jiminez. I didn't actually see this goal because all the Wolves fans stood up as he was running freely at the box and I refused to as I didn't want to be associated with them lot once they started inevitably celebrating... 

It was a great time to score for Wolves but Liverpool for a short while made me think we might be able to get back into the game when we found an equaliser not long after returning from the half time break. 

It was a lovely strike from Origi right in front of me. I couldn't really celebrate properly so I was sat in the middle of me fella and me brother elbowing them constantly with a big grin on my face. 

Even with the goal, I still wasn't sure the Reds had enough in them to see this one out and I knew Wolves still had fuel in the tank. 

Bad times...
A wonder strike from Neves put Nuno's side back in front at 55 minutes and deservedly so. The pace in which Wolves regained the lead I think was just too much to deal with for an already struggling Liverpool XI. 

Klopp full on went for it with about 20 minutes remaining, bringing on both Salah and Firmino. I was extremely happy to be able to see them both but not even their magic was enough to find a goal to keep Liverpool in the cup. 

On the whole, am I disappointed? A little bit but not really to be honest. I always want to chase silverware but Wolves were deserved winners last night. I'm mainly disappointed because being from Wolverhampton I'm not gonna live this down now. On the flip side though, Liverpool will not have as many games to contend with and this could be our best ever chance to win the league. All I care about now is us beating Brighton!! 

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Sunday, 6 January 2019

FA CUP: Wolverhampton Wanderers V Liverpool

For those of you who are regulars on the blog or on my Twitter feed, you will know that this fixture is a special one. I'm a Liverpool fan from Wolverhampton and tomorrow I'll be sat in the North Bank with me fella and me brother trying desperately not to celebrate if we find the net haha.

I'd usually say "when" we find the net but to be honest, I have no idea what XI Klopp will choose and I don't really care I'm just excited to see us in the flesh as it's not something I get to do very often. I was supposed to go to the league match at Molineux but it clashed with our work's Christmas do that I was helping to organise. I was so pleased when we pulled Wolves out the hat!

Regulars will also remember that I worked at Molineux as a betting cashier for several years and I haven't really been back since I stopped taking bets in 2016.

Image via The Standard
Jurgen Klopp has confirmed in press conferences this week that two names definitely on the team sheet will be Simon Mignolet and Alberto Moreno. It also sounds like youngsters Camacho and Jones could feature. I am expecting a weakened team from Klopp but I'm also hoping he might have some bigger names on the bench. It would be good if he started players like Shaqiri and Sturridge too.

For Wolves, it's hard to predict what they are going to do. Nuno is very focused on the league and so may also opt to play a weakened side but on the other hand, a weakened Liverpool team may convince him to play a strong XI to try and progress in the cup?

The last time the two sides met was of course in the league in December. Liverpool won the game 2-0 thanks to goals from Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk. Wolves had been taking points off all the top six and I was genuinely quite concerned about that match, mainly because of the amount of stick I'd get if we'd lost!

The sides also met in the FA Cup quite recently in 2017. I watched in my favourite pub in the centre of Wolverhampton, sat in my Liverpool shirt surrounded by Wolves fans. Richard Stearman scored after one minute, it was one of the worst experiences of my life... The team in gold and black won the game 2-1 with only a consolation goal for the Reds from Origi.

I'm really not sure how this match is going to pan out but I am really looking forward to it. It will be a good opportunity for some of our younger and fringe players to play against a quality side in Wolves. I shouldn't really admit to this because I honestly think to be the best, you have to beat everyone and keep going for all types of silverware but if we lost tomorrow night I wouldn't be too concerned, all I care about at the moment is getting back to winning ways in the Premier League.

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching. Get ready for the lights show hahaha.

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Saturday, 22 December 2018

REPORT: Wolves 0 Liverpool 2

Top at Christmas, best present ever. Thankfully I did not have to deal with a festive period stuffed with jokes from my Wolves supporting fella, family and friends, I seriously do not think I would have coped. To be fair to Wolves though, they didn't do too badly at all but they just couldn't quite cope with Jurgen Klopp's side.

Wolves have taken points off Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea so far this season making it feasible that they might cause issues for the Reds. I put on a confident front but I genuinely did have concerns about this match and if Wolves had made the most of their own chances the result could have been very different.

Image via Express & Star
It was Liverpool though who opened the scoring with a lovely goal from Mo Salah. The Egyptian took the original free kick which found its way over to the right side of the pitch where Fabinho and Mane played a wonderful one-two. Fabinho then fizzed a ball into the box for the encroaching Salah who flicked the ball into the back of the net.

I was sat in All Bar One at this point having moved from my work's Christmas party sit down meal to the next venue of the night. Sat in the corner, several drinks down with my iPad propped up on the table, I cheered quite loudly to the bemusement of the rest of the pub haha. This game meant a lot though and there was no way I could miss this after I was supposed to be going to the match.

Wolves remained in the game after the Reds took the lead, chances from Traore and Saiss, in particular, stand out but they couldn't quite convert and half time probably came too soon for the Midlands side who were gaining a bit of a footing.

Klopp in his post-match interview noted how difficult Wolves are to break down and this was reflected in the time it took Liverpool to actually find their second goal. Virgil van Dijk is by most people's standards, the best defender in the Premier League right now, he's been an absolute revelation since joining Liverpool but who knew he could also finish like a forward?

A half-clearance from Wolves, who seemed to struggle with the second ball during the 90, was found by Mo Salah. Mo provided a lovely ball over the gold and black defence and it was Virgil who was waiting, his finish was one any striker would be envious of.

Another string to our defender's bow and things just keep getting better for the Dutchman, which is why it is going to be so difficult facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League first leg without him.

I have to confess, my ability to follow this match was limited due to the amount of ciders I'd downed at the work's Christmas do but in summary, I think Liverpool dealt extremely well against a tough opposition who could have changed the game in a flash had a bit of luck gone their way. Importantly for the Reds though, this is yet another example of how Klopp's side can now grind out difficult results, Wolves away was never as straightforward as some would have you believe and for a variety of reasons, it's a massive, massive win for me.

Have a top Christmas folks, it's the Reds at the top of the tree!!!

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Thursday, 20 December 2018

PREVIEW: Wolves V Liverpool

Liverpool travel to Wolverhampton on Friday evening, my hometown and a place I love dearly. As a kid growing up, my brother was mad on the Reds so my football allegiance was aligned early to the lads from L4 but with a fella, family and friends supporting the boys in gold I always want them to do well, apart from tomorrow that is. 

After all we've been through this season, still top of the league and still unbeaten, I don't think I could take it if them Wolves lot managed to beat us. The scary thing is, they are fully capable. Wolves have had a brilliant start to the season and while they've struggled against sides like Huddersfield, they have absolutely thrived against the likes of Man City and Chelsea. 

Image via The Express
I think a lot of neutrals weren't sure what to expect from the Midlands side when they got promoted. I remember having a debate with several fans on Twitter first day of the season as some were calling Nuno's side a one-man team after a 2-2 draw with Everton. I was warning people not to underestimate. 

On a friendly note, let's not forget that Wolves are a major reason why we are currently sat top of the table. Taking points off City and beating Chelsea helped us massively, but they will not want to be doing us any favours on Friday. 

To change up this preview a bit I asked my fella a few questions to gain a Wolves perspective: 
__________

What do you make of Liverpool's season so far? 

Well, it couldn't have gone much better, could it? Unbeaten at Christmas and ahead of probably the best side the Premier League has seen. It's a remarkable achievement and in any other season, you could be 10 points clear. You seem to be really hitting your stride now, whereas earlier in the season you were winning games without playing particularly well. That win over United was huge, and should give confidence you can stay with City and push them all the way during the second half of the season.

Who's your favourite Red at the moment? 

Bobby Firmino for me is one of the most underrated players in the league. He's been getting a bit of stick of late from what I've seen, but he is what makes this Liverpool system tick. Brilliant at holding up the ball and linking the play and has that knack of getting into the box and on the end of tap-ins. A word for James Milner too, who has been vital to this team. A true case of a man making the very best of himself despite his limitations.

Have Wolves not met, matched or exceeded your expectations so far this season? 

It is a strange time to be a Wolves fan. Any other promoted team would merely be seeking survival in their first season back but the club has said from the off they are aiming much higher. The amount of money spent and the football we played in the Championship heightened expectations. We have shown we belong in this league, but defeats to the likes of Huddersfield and Cardiff have also given us a reality check. The win over Chelsea and draw with City are the standout results but last week's beating of Bournemouth was much more significant in putting to bed the notion we only do it against the big teams. We're currently seventh in the league, sat a point behind Man United, so we can't really complain

Name some players we should keep an eye out for? 

Ruben Neves has been the star of the last 12 months, an elegant, graceful midfielder with a phenomenal passing range. However, it is others who have shone of late such as Raul Jiminez, our lone frontman, who has more than stepped up to the task. He's chipped in with a few goals but his all-round play is much more important. Conor Coady too has been a rock in defence and made the step up to the Premier League look easy.

Is Conor Coady now a yam yam? 

They said he was a Scouser, he's bleeding gold and black, is how the song goes. We're under no illusions, Coady grew up in Liverpool and came from their youth set-up but when he steps out onto the pitch he gives everything for the shirt and the club. Can't remember the last time he had a bad game. A true leader. Don't expect him to shirk any tackles!

You're always banging on at me about how Wolves invented the European Cup. Honved, floodlights, blah blah blah... do you think Nuno's side could make Europe? 

Nuno's side could definitely make Europe but probably not this season. Given how the Premier League is these days, our only chance for the foreseeable future is by finishing seventh or winning a cup, unless one of the big six has a crisis. United are woeful but they're still sitting in sixth spot. This season will probably be too soon and I see us finishing around half way.

And finally, score prediction for Friday night?

I would probably look daft to predict a Wolves win given Liverpool are top of the league and unbeaten but we are definitely capable. Chelsea found that out. But if I'm honest, I probably see Liverpool winning this. Klopp will be desperate not to slip up after that United win. That being said, I'll sit on the fence and say 1-1.

__________

I was supposed to be going to this match, I'd been looking forward to it as soon as they released the fixtures but Sky went and moved it to Friday. Friday is our work's Christmas party which I'm helping to organise so I've had to resort to an iPad in the handbag and SkyGo! Haha. 

The last time we played Wolves...
It's going to be a difficult match for Liverpool and there's a danger of taking this one too easy. For me, the key bonus on Liverpool's part is the strength of our defence, Wolves will attack but whether they can convert successfully is a different question. In the meantime, you have Mane, Salah and Firmino taking advantage of any gaps. 

Wolves have scored and conceded exactly 19 goals this season while the Reds have scored 37 and conceded just seven goals. 

I am extremely excited for this match. I just wish I could be there but luckily we drew them in the FA Cup so I can go to that in Jan. 

My score prediction is a 2-1. 

Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching! 

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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Hungry Like The Wolves

So, yesterday was perhaps one of the worst matches I have ever had the misfortune to watch as a Liverpool fan, a Liverpool fan who hails from Wolverhampton. For those of you not following my Twitter updates throughout the day, this post should give you an idea of how I was feeling from kick off to the final whistle.

I arrived in the pub about an hour and a half before kick off, sat square in front of the big screen with my Liverpool shirt on I was soon joined my my fella, my brother and my brother's best mate, all in Wolves shirts. Full English downed and smiley pre-match photograph taken, I was feeling relatively positive prior to kick off.

After seeing that Jurgen Klopp had chosen to start Firmino, Wijnaldum and Origi I was pleasantly surprised. I expected it to be an even weaker side than the XI he chose to start. What I didn't expect was us to be in dire need of the likes of Coutinho and Sturridge within 45 minutes.

Wolves scored before the first minute of the game had even played out. I don't think anybody in the pub (hoards of Wolves fans included) would have seen that one coming. Then on top of that, the goalscorer was Richard Stearman who I happen to know isn't actually all that good and hadn't scored in three years. My only reaction at that stage was laughter, I was laughing my head off. Yes, there were questions of offside but the fact that Liverpool had given so much freedom to Stearman from that free kick was embarrassing. I was laughing because it was terrible but also because I never seriously thought we wouldn't get back into the game, there was 89 minutes to go, re-focus and find the net I thought but of course, that didn't happen.

Wolves were set up perfectly for this game and manager Paul Lambert must be praised, it was no coincidence they were so lethal on the counter attack and his team selection along with his tactics absolutely flummoxed his old friend Klopp. The work rate of players like Dicko allowed the Midlanders to fight hard and hold up play when required. Defensively they were solid and with the pace of Helder Costa at their disposal for their many counter attacks, the Reds just had no clue what had hit them.

At 41 minutes Wolves found a second goal. At this point it wasn't funny anymore. The whole pub including my fella and brother were going crazy, I had a bit of an outer-body experience at that point, just wishing I could be transported elsewhere. Horrible. Absolutely horrible. I had no excuses in my tank, I had no faith that we could actually get back into the game and I was desperate for us to resort to calling up Coutinho who realistically we shouldn't have even needed.

Half time
Without sounding offensive to Wolves, they are a side lulling around in the bottom half of the Championship at present, they shouldn't pose any massive threat to Liverpool, not at Anfield but they were a force to be reckoned with and one of the main reasons for that in my opinion was their hunger and desire to get through to the next round.

Liverpool just did not look arsed at all. The only player on the pitch who showed any glimmer of passion was Woodburn and let's face it, the responsibility of grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and trying to turn around Liverpool's fortunes should not fall to a teenager.

Wolves' goalkeeper used to play between the sticks for bloody Telford and yet we didn't even trouble him. When Origi did finally find the back of the net at 86 minutes he didn't even look bothered. There was no urgency, no nothing. Ok, the pressure was heightened and there was one moment where it looked as though the Reds could have scraped a draw but it was nowhere near good enough.

For me also a key point to note was that it was no coincidence Origi scored from a well crossed corner. There is no point whatsoever in playing the likes of Origi and/or Sturridge if you aren't going to use wingers or full backs to whip in crosses for them to get on the end of. After about 20 minutes yesterday, maybe even less than that it should have been apparent that we were not going to be able to walk this ball into the net. Whenever our lads got anywhere near the 18 yard box they were instantly out of ideas, balls through the middle were being sniffed out by the Wolves defence and when possession was lost the away side would hit us hard on the break.

I don't think we should be afraid to resort to route one tactics and more wing play/crosses if that is what is required. At times it almost feels as though Klopp can't bring himself to instruct his side to play that way and whilst that is admirable, the reason people like Jose Mourinho nab points when they desperately need to is because they aren't afraid to resort to those tactics.

Full time...
At full-time I was utterly speechless. I wasn't even angry I was just embarrassed. Sat in a pub in the centre of Wolverhampton with no real answer as to why we were so shite. Unbelievable. We can take nothing away from Wolves, they thoroughly deserved that win but the sooner they get knocked out and I can start laughing back, the better.

Next up for Liverpool is Antonio Conte's Chelsea and if the Reds get anything less than a win on Tuesday night, we are in big trouble.

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Friday, 27 January 2017

Yam Yam Reds Fan

It's not often that your home town team, a team that is supported by your fella and the majority of your family and friends is picked out of the hat to face your own club at Anfield in the FA Cup, but that's exactly what happened earlier this month. 

Conor Coady Liverpool Wolves
Image via Liverpool Echo
Sat down watching the draw with the fella (knowing of course we still had to beat Plymouth to get through) we were both praying for a Liverpool V Wolves fixture. You don't ACTUALLY think it's gonna happen though, when ball number 22 came out Rich knew it was Wolves and I practically kicked him off the bed in sheer excitement. Unbelievable. "We've got to go!!!" , "We've got to go!!!" I shouted. 

Unfortunately, despite my brother and his mate's best efforts they couldn't get tickets. Wolves sold out their 8,000+ allocation before it even went to a members sale. So, Plan B it was. 

Plan B means me sitting in my favourite pub in Wolverhampton centre where I watch most of our matches. The downside of course is that I'm going to be MASSIVELY outnumbered, but I'm not that arsed. 

The last time I watched Liverpool V Wolves in there was not a great experience. Roy Hodgson was manager and Wolves had taken a 1-0 lead via Ward (who wasn't even ever that bloody good) I didn't have a Liverpool shirt on that day as we were going out for the night after the match so I was undercover. The Wolves fans didn't know there was a Kopite in their ranks... until of course I went absolutely mental (few too many rum and cokes probably didn't help) after Skrtel scored a header late on. What I didn't realise after spinning round and drawing my eyes away from the TV was that the flag had gone up. Queue barrels of laughter from the whole pub. 

Anyway, I digress...

After losing to Southampton on Wednesday and failing to find a way through, Wolves would be mad not to enforce a similar tactic on Saturday. One issue Paul Lambert does have though is with his goalkeeping. Carl Ikeme got a bit miffed at Wes Hoolahan last week and pushed him over, he's suspended. Their second choice keeper Andy Lonergran doesn't look like he's going to be fit in time so that leaves Harry Burgoyne: a 20 year old with two senior appearances. 

From speaking to the Wolves contingency many of them are positive about Harry and say in the two games he has played he showed real promise. It would be just typical that he plays an absolute worldy against us. 

Another one to watch out for (if he starts) is of course Coady. The Liverpool lad will be out to prove a point at Anfield and has already revealed in a feature interview with our local paper that he will definitely be celebrating if he finds the back of the net on Saturday. 

Whatever happens it is sure to be a very interesting Saturday for me, so spare me a thought! I can't deal with another loss, especially not to them.

Below you can find the view from the opposition. My fella who is a massive Wolves fan has answered a few questions. Enjoy the match folks wherever you are watching! 

Opposition View

1. Key player/who should we watch out for?

Helder Costa. The ray of light in an otherwise bleak season. He's on loan from Benfica as a result of our owners being on good terms with super agent Jorge Mendes and we have certainly benefitted.
He's our Coutinho, capable of match-winning brilliance.

We're trying desperately to sign him up permanently though Everton are reportedly sniffing around.

2. Thoughts on Liverpool and their current form? 

After the way Liverpool started the season I felt this could be their year for the title, with the front four appearing unstoppable and the general aura around Klopp.
It seems to have unraveled a bit of late for whatever reason, perhaps due to an inability to see off some of the smaller teams. Though it should be said Chelsea have been in astonishing form and Liverpool can't be expected to win every match.

I now feel the five sides behind Chelsea could finish in any order. There doesn't seem too much between them.

3. Liverpool player you would happily have in your side? 

With the attacking talent Liverpool have at their disposal there is no-one I wouldn't want in our side.

While it's tempting to say Coutinho, given our need for a goalscorer I'll choose Daniel Sturridge.

A great goalscorer who has been a victim of unfortunate circumstances which means he just doesn't fit in to Klopp's system. Can we take him on loan?

4.What starting XI do you expect from Paul Lambert? 

For me and probably most Wolves fans this is a no brainer. Play our strongest possible team.

But Lambert brought in a few fringe players for the game at Stoke in the last round who, to the surprise of many, put in an excellent performance.

So there is a feeling he may want to reward those who got us to this stage and Lambert has hinted at changes in the press.

Whatever happens expect to see our most dangerous players: Costa, either Dicko or Bodvarsson and possibly Cavaleiro, a mercurial Portuguese who, on his day, can be sensational.

5. For those who don't follow Championship football how are Wolves doing so far this season? 

Much like 2015/16 it has been another hugely disappointing season.

It is simply not acceptable for a club like Wolves to be lumbering around the bottom half of the Championship.

However, there have been positive signs since Paul Lambert took over, including fabulous wins over Stoke and Villa, and while it appears to be too late to mount a push for the play-offs this season there is renewed hope he could be the man to take us back to the Premier League.

Like every other year, next season will begin with optimism.

6. Score prediction? 

There is cause for optimism. Klopp will surely have an eye on the must-win Chelsea match on Tuesday and I can't see too many of the first XI being involved. I'd expect to see the likes of Can, Lucas, Sturridge and Origi but not a lot else.

We're also in decent form and our win at Stoke in the last round showed, on our day, we can mix it with Premier League sides, even if this is a considerable step up.

That said, we have a keeper crisis of our own with our number one suspended.
I'll go for the draw and another game at Molineux. 1-1.

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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Reds Put 3 Past Lacklustre Wolves

Carroll celebrates with Bellamy and Henderson...
Liverpool put three past a lacklustre Wolves side yesterday at a freezing cold Molineux. Andy Carroll got himself on the score sheet whilst Wolves struggled to find a goalscorer at all. The win moved Liverpool into 5th in the table.

Wolves had less worries than originally thought injury wise as Frimpong ended up being able to start in midfield for McCarthy's side. As for Liverpool there was one very big name missing - Steven Gerrard.

I got given the team sheet in the boardroom and must admit was happy with the line up. I was chuffed to see Bellamy starting and perhaps it's quite bad to say, but i wasn't really bothered that Downing only made the bench. He just hasn't been impressing me of late. Kuyt and Carroll up front was also a positive for me, i felt that partnership worked well against United.

I missed the first ten minutes or so of the match as i had to cash up. Wasn't all bad though as Maxi Rodriguez had to squeeze past me in the boardroom to get out to his seat, saw Comolli and Flanno too. I eventually got a seat in the Billy Wright about 15 minutes in, after asking about 5 different stewards if there were any spares.

Wolves for me had a very poor first half, but then Liverpool weren't exactly outstanding for the first 45 minutes either.

Whenever Wolves did get a chance to break, the idea 9 times out of 10 was to play the ball to Fletcher. I said in my match preview that if the Liverpool defence dealt with him then Wolves wouldn't win and thankfully the Reds dealt with him well.

Martin Skrtel was with him all night, all over the pitch and in every aerial battle. There were a few moments where the defender got a bit clumsy and it could have cost us a free kick but i thought it was a great man marking performance from Skrtel.

For Liverpool, when their chances came, they took advantage of a sloppy Wolves right hand side. Wolves defender Kevin Foley didn't have a brilliant game and Liverpool took every opportunity available to add pressure down this side of the field.

The first half saw no goals for either side and both must have felt if they could find the confidence second half, then they could change the game. Wolves had a proven goalscorer up front and so perhaps had an easier plan of action to enforce, because for Liverpool, we didn't have any real regular scorers on the pitch minus Craig Bellamy.

The Reds began to take a foothold second half though and Wolves began to fizzle out. There wasn't much of a fizzle from McCarthy's side anyway to be honest but in the second half it began to look like they weren't arsed.

Many people are calling for McCarthy's head in the Wolves fan base but the thing is, although i agree with them because to me it looks like he's taken them as far as he can, I'm not so sure what a manager could do with that side. There's a few players with great potential but then the others just don't look bothered.

Liverpool scored their first just after the 50 minute mark. A ball into the box from Charlie Adam was easily reached by Carroll who beat the Wolves defender to put the ball in the back of the net. It feels like I'm slaughtering Wolves here in this report but it was a poor goal to concede and things didn't get better for the home side.

Craig Bellamy found Liverpool a second goal less than ten minutes after. Once again, the Wolves defence just invited Bellamy in, nobody closed him down and that is never a good idea. The Welshman's strike beat Wayne Hennessey and being the cheeky chappy he is, he celebrated but ran towards the Wolves fans (Where i also happened to be sat with a Cheshire cat's grin on my face).

If it wasn't for Hennessey Wolves could have lost 5 or 6 nil. The goalkeeper made some fantastic saves, it was just a shame he was having to deal with so much pressure.

Wolves didn't look like coming back from 1 nil down let alone 2. McCarthy made some substitutions but it was too late as Liverpool scored their third with less than 15 minutes to go.

Dirk Kuyt fresh from knocking Manchester United out of the FA Cup managed to get himself into bags of space, once again the Wolves defence seemed happy to allow a red shirt to wander into the box. The Dutchman with a simple strike put the ball into the back of the net and secured Liverpool's 3 points.

The best chance Wolves had was a shot from Ebanks Blake which smashed off the post. The forward is a Liverpool fan so I'm sure he would of relished that consolation goal.

It was great to see Liverpool confidently beat a side from the lower half of the table though because without offending those teams, they are the sides the Reds have been struggling with and there was no struggle on Tuesday night. Yes maybe Wolves being poor aided our result but nevertheless it was great to see three goals from three different goalscorers.

As i mentioned, i sat in the Billy Wright, it's usually pretty ok because a lot of families sit in that section so i just tend to keep myself to myself and not make too much noise haha. I clenched my fists, clapped and smiled when Carroll, Bellamy and Kuyt scored but that was about it.

I had mutters behind me from blokes telling other blokes that i was singing "Fields Of Anfield Road" and i also had four young kids notice my Liverpool badge and gloves with about five minutes of time left, they gave me some right evils! Haha.

The highlight for me though was the Kuyt goal because as soon as the ball hit the back of the net, stacks of Wolves fans around me just got up and left. There were ten minutes left and i just couldn't believe what i was seeing, they complain about their manager and team but they don't see fit to attempt to cheer their side on? It just baffles me, always has done. If you buy a ticket, you stay till the end.

I just laughed, i did a 360 degrees scan around the stadium as i saw more and more fans leaving and just sat there smirking to myself.

Other than the freezing cold weather it was a great match to watch though, as you all know, i rarely get to see the lads play so it was brilliant to see three goals!

Next up for Liverpool is Tottenham at Anfield.

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Monday, 30 January 2012

Reds Look For Win At Molineux

I'd love for Carroll to score in this one...
Liverpool travel to my hometown of Wolverhampton on Tuesday night as they prepare to face Wolves in the Premier League. Liverpool are on a massive high after knocking both Manchester City and Manchester United out of the League and FA Cup, but can the Reds compose themselves in exactly the sort of fixture that has caused them to stumble in the league?

Liverpool don't have any new injury worries and with Craig Bellamy only featuring in the United game, it is probable the Welshman may start. There were rumours going around from The Times newspaper that Steven Gerrard picked up an injury but I'm not certain how true those rumours are as i haven't read anything else on the matter.

For Wolves, they're in a bit of trouble, especially in midfield. Karl Henry is serving a one match suspension and so misses out and injured are O'Hara and Frimpong. The on loan Arsenal player had an immediate impact in the Wolves side so they will be looking for somebody to step up against Liverpool on Tuesday evening.

The last time the two sides met, Luis Suarez was on the score sheet in a game that Liverpool won 2-1. I have fond memories of this because i was in a pub in Wolverhampton literally encircled by Wolves fans whilst dancing to and singing "I Just Can't Get Enough"... Good times.

We don't have to go too far back though for a Wolves win against Liverpool. They won 1-0 in December 2010 at Anfield. Another game i remember very well because i was in the same pub, surrounded by Wolves fans again but this time jumping up for an offside Skrtel goal and then being humiliated at the final whistle. Not so good times...

Stat Sandwich

  • Liverpool have lost their last two away matches.
  • Wolves haven't beat Liverpool at Molineux since 1981.
  • Liverpool have conceded the second lowest total of goals in the League this season.

As you all know, what with living in Wolverhampton, working at the Molineux, plus having family and the fella as fans, i pick up a fair bit of knowledge about them as the season goes by so here's my two cents...

In my opinion Wolves still have problems with their defence, Berra and Johnson for me are problematic and the last time Wolves kept a clean sheet was back in August against Aston Villa. The positive for Wolves though is that they have a fantastic keeper in Wayne Hennessey behind their defence.

As for the midfield. With O'Hara and Frimpong out, plus the loaning out of Guedioura who is a skillful little player, Liverpool have less to worry about. Milijas has got a shot on him though and the tenacity of Hunt is always difficult to deal with.

The prize possession Wolves have though is that man Steven Fletcher, a truly natural goalscorer, give him even half a chance and the ball will be in the back of the net. Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel have formed a superb partnership of late, if they can keep Fletcher quiet then the chances of Wolves getting anything out of the game are seriously decreased.

From Liverpool's side of things, we're still struggling to score goals. I have the utmost faith in the defence for Tuesday night but I'm slightly concerned as to where the goals are going to come from. Carroll had a cracker against United but in my opinion he needs someone up front with him, he worked well with Kuyt in my opinion.

Bellamy of course is capable of grabbing a goal but it's just knowing whether or not he'll start. Whatever side is chosen, Liverpool need a win and 3 points, they can't afford to keep sliding in the league like they have been.

Enjoy the match folks, i get a free ticket! I might be able to get in with the Liverpool fans but if not i have to make do with the family section of the Billy Wright. Me fella's going too, he'll be in the South Bank so let the banter begin!

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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Liverpool See Off Wolves


Liverpool put two past a gallant Wolves side yesterday in an entertaining fixture for the Reds. The first half was pretty much one way traffic but second half substitutions from Mick McCarthy allowed Wolves to get back into the game with a goal from Steven Fletcher.

Liverpool opened the scoring with a little dash of magic from lady luck. Charlie Adam saw his chance to have a pop at goal and struck with power, the attempt looked as if it was going wide but Wolves captain Roger Johnson made the decision to stick his head on it and put the ball past Hennessey and into his own net.

It was almost laughable because nobody could see why Johnson put his head in the way, whether it was because he didn't have time to think i don't know but it was a bad mistake from the defender.

Some controversy in the build up to the goal too meant Johnson had words with referee Kevin Friend. Whilst watching live i personally think Johnson went down like a sack of spuds and to me the push was more of a case of Andy Carroll steadying himself for the header, after watching it on the highlights though maybe Wolves did have a case, either way, fouled or not, that isn't an excuse to stick you're head in the way of a harmless attempt.

Wolves were pretty absent in the first half and Pepe Reina was left jobless. Liverpool on the other hand were looking strong, Downing was constantly threatening on the wing and Suarez also was causing numerous problems for the Wolves defence.

It was Suarez who would put the second past Wolves shortly before half time. An attempt to play the Uruguayan offside by Wolves failed miserably as the number 7 set off towards goal.

Some lovely footwork saw Suarez leave Berra dumbstruck as he weaved back and forth and took time in his set up. Beating Hennessey at his near post, a superb goal put Liverpool 2-0 up.

The assist came from Jose Enrique who i feel the need to highlight, what a player this man is. I've been nothing but impressed with the defender since we signed him, not only is he calm and collected in defence but he can certainly cause trouble with the long ball. Brilliant player.

Half time saw substitutions from the away side. Manager Mick McCarthy surely spotted that his 4-5-1 set up was not working and by putting Fletcher on up front with Doyle, it was a totally different second half. Youngster Matt Doherty also came on.

Steven Fletcher took just 3 minutes to stamp his mark on the game. The forward received a great ball from Stephen Hunt and with a lovely finish, smashed one into the back of the net.

What was worrying for Liverpool i thought was that as soon as Wolves were in celebratory mode, Anfield went from an upbeat atmosphere to an angry and frustrated one. At this stage we still had control of the game and people forget the affect an atmosphere can have on the side.

For the next 10 minutes Liverpool looked very shaky, i was beginning to think we would never settle down. If Wolves were going to find an equalizer it would have been in these moments.

Liverpool still had plenty of chances but play had now switched to a counter attack style. With Wolves continually finding more confidence, the Reds had to take their chances to break.

Suarez was denied after a fantastic save from Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey shortly after the Fletcher goal and so too was Stewart Downing.

Wolves maintained momentum and continued to throw everything at us, but importantly, Liverpool held their nerve and defended well. It may not have looked pretty but it would have taken a lot from Wolves to break through and truly trouble Pepe Reina.

Dirk Kuyt came on for Jordon Henderson at 70 minutes and was followed soon after by Steven Gerrard who replaced a frustrated Luis Suarez.

Steven Gerrard considering he's been out for 6 months didn't seem a shadow of his old self and got stuck in immediately. Particularly when he headed the ball down to set himself up for a shot that he sent over the bar.

Wolves followed suit with the subs and Stephen Hunt made way for Guedioura with 10 minutes left. I mentioned the Algerian in the match preview and i know a lot of Wolves fans were frustrated that he didn't start. He was a lease of life for the away side and had an attempt fly over the cross bar straight after he came on.

The full time whistle saw Liverpool walk away with all 3 points. Some people are saying that Wolves deserved a point, others are saying we deserved the 3. You may think I'm bias but in my honest opinion i do feel we worked hard for those 3 points and deserved them.

Wolves no doubt were the better team second half but there's no point throwing everything at us and barely making Reina flinch. Our defence fought hard and kept out every attempt, plus in the midst of all this we had chances aplenty.

One thing i will say though is it was a cracking match to watch. I said I'd do a diary style post but figured it would be better to leave it until the end. I basically went to a pub in town that we go to quite often with two mates, there was absolutely nowhere to sit.

I spotted two or three Liverpool fans but it was rammed with those in gold and black. Managed to find a seat so plonked it right in the middle of a stack of Wolves fans in front of the big screen. Then shortly after two blokes watching the City match got up so i got us all three seats directly in front of the big screen, we were surrounded by Wolves fans, it was hilarious!

Got to say though, chanting the Suarez tune and dancing around after he netted that stunner encircled by opposition fans is a quality feeling! Haha.

Next up for Liverpool is the Merseyside derby against an Everton side going pretty well at the moment. Should be a good game, bets in early for first player to get sent off.

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Friday, 23 September 2011

Will Gerrard Start Against Wolves?

He came on against Brighton, will he start tomorrow?
Liverpool face Wolverhampton Wanderers tomorrow at Anfield as they look to get back to winning ways in the Premier League. Putting the win over Brighton aside, the Reds have hit a bit of bad form of late, losing to both Stoke and Tottenham on the trot.

Wolves aren't having the best run either, they too were winners in their league cup tie against Millwall but a defeat at the hands of Queens Park Rangers at home and a loss to Tottenham too mean they are also looking to get some points on the board.

As you should all know by now, Wolves are probably the team i know the most about aside from obviously the boys in red. Living in Wolverhampton has it's upsides i suppose and cutting down research before blog posts is one of them!

Steven Fletcher did not feature against Millwall for Wolves but it is believed he may be available to start tomorrow. From the Wanderers' point of view this would be a massive bonus as Ebanks - Blake is still injured and Kevin Doyle has been rather dire in front of goal lately.

Wolves have some quality players to watch out for in midfield in the likes of Jarvis and O'Hara. Both have been very influential in the side so far this season and i should imagine Mick will field them tomorrow. Another one to watch out for is Guedioura, after he scored an excellent goal in the league cup, many fans seem to think the manager may factor him into the side for tomorrows clash.

For Liverpool, we are finally in a bit of luck on the injury situation. Steven Gerrard is back and should play some part tomorrow. Also back is Fabio Auerlio and Glen Johnson. Daniel Agger is the only one left in the medics room.

Martin Skrtel and Charlie Adam both served their one match ban after missing the Brighton game. The pair were sent off against Spurs but will be options for Dalglish on Saturday.

I haven't decided where my quid is going yet this week, going to have a look at the odds online, might have something daft, but my realistic prediction is 2-0 to Liverpool.

Wolves have put in some good performances so far this season but i don't think they will be seeing a repeat performance of last years win at Anfield.

Liverpool with the Tottenham game aside have always showed signs of scoring goals, we were very unlucky against Stoke and i think on the back of the Brighton win the lads will be ready and raring to go.

Stat Sandwich

  • It's been two years since Liverpool have won a Premier League match in September.
  • Wolves have only kept two clean sheets away from home since their win at Anfield last year.
  • If Liverpool lose, it will be the first time since 2003 that the Reds have lost three league games in a row.

At the moment, it looks like I'm going into town on my own tomorrow to watch the match. No doubt the pub will be filled with Wolves fans but can't say I'm not used to it, i swear the managers a Liverpool fan anyways... Maybe i can sit with him? Haha.

I'd expect a diary style post for the match report folks, filled with tales from the pub!

Enjoy the match! Come on the Redmen!

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Sunday, 23 January 2011

Pass And Move It's The Liverpool Groove


My view yesterday from the Billy Wright stand (i was sat with the Wolves lot)...

Ok so the song was bloody awful "they talk dead funny but they play dead great" but the meaning of the song, the passing and moving style of Liverpool Football Club, well it's what we all love. Yesterday the lads in Red proved that it wasn't unrealistic to go back to those days, with King Kenny in the dugout it truly felt like we'd rolled back the clocks.

The starting eleven did raise some questions from most fans before kick off, namely for the inclusion of scapegoat Christian Poulsen. I'm not going to lie, i myself have been one to highly criticize the midfielder and it was no different yesterday after seeing him on the team sheet. My natural reaction was "oh god" however, to be fair to the bloke, he totally shut my mouth after his stint.

Wolves set up in a 4-4-2 style with Fletcher and Doyle leading the eleven. Hennessey was in goal for the side in gold and black and captain Karl Henry was reintroduced.

In case any of you still don't know by now, i may as well quickly explain my reasons for sitting in with the Wolves fans. I live in Wolverhampton and work for a betting company in the Molineux boardroom, because i work there, once I've cashed up and stuff I'm allowed to go and find a seat to watch the match. It's harder to muscle your way in with the away fans so i settled for the family section in the Billy Wright.

Saw Christian Purslow and Suso too whilst in the boardroom and a couple of the other youths but didn't catch their faces so i have no idea who they were haha. Capello was there too but I've seen him loads now, getting bored of him!

Anyways back to the game. I missed the first 10minutes or so but thankfully i didn't miss anything of note. The lads started steadily and it was easy to note that Dalglish had set them up to attack. Away from home lately, especially under Roy Hodgson, it was a drab display every week for the travelling fans but this time would be different.

As everyone has surely already noticed, Fernando Torres is back to his old self. His few games under new management seem to have sparked something and the fear he instills into the oppositions defence is well and truly back.

Liverpool's number 9 got the Reds off the mark just after 30minutes. With several attempts beforehand either going just wide or being blocked, it was only a matter of time before the Spaniard punished the sloppy Wolves defence.

A controversial moment has spurred since Torres slipped in his chance from a Meireles assist after Sky Sports presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys were heard criticizing the female linesman and going as far to say that somebody should go and explain the offside rule to her. Hilariously though, the official got the last laugh after a superb decision due to Zubar playing Meireles onside.

A disgrace to say the least i feel but i also had several fans sitting in my vicinity saying the same thing. It was only after one of my work colleagues who was sitting near me rang his brother to ask if it was offside (to which he replied no) that everyone bit their lips. I found it appropriate at this point to say "Now what do you think of female officials?!" Some people laughed, others just kept quiet, either way i felt smug.

Another moment to take note of was the cheeky little dig from Fernando Torres after scoring Liverpool's first. The number 9 jogged up to Richard Stearman and gave him the ball. So simple but so gutting for the Wolves defender to take, they had been having spats throughout the game and it looks like Torres got the last laugh.

Wolves' only real effort came just before half time when a close range attempt in a packed penalty area was saved by Pepe Reina. Other than this, Liverpool didn't really have very much to deal with, Mick McCarthy's side were a shadow of the team they were at Anfield, and attacking wise, they were very poor.

Lucasade...
Lucas grabs a refreshment at half time...

After a strong first 45 minutes from Liverpool it only took them 10 minutes in the second half to get themselves another goal. Raul Meireles who had been on fire from kick off delivered an absolute peach. After Kuyt battled for the header the ball splayed out to the number four who hit the ball first time on the volley, his effort dipped as it travelled and Hennessy had no chance. Gets better each time you watch it and I'm so glad i got to see it live!

By now Liverpool were running rings around Wolverhampton Wanderers, even though our second goal was by no means due to a defensive fault, McCarthy's back four did look somewhat unsteady. 

At 70 minutes Wolves introduced new signing and ex Liverpool player Adam Hammill. He replaced the ineffective Stephen Hunt. An immediate impact from the 22 year old after some fantastic balls into the box gave Wolves some attacking options.

Liverpool replaced Poulsen with Shelvey and Maxi with Aurelio in the run up to 80 minutes. To be quite honest i think we could have continued without making any substitutions but it was good to see Dalglish add some fresh legs into the game.

The three points were safely intact but just to be sure Fernando Torres decided to settle the deal with a second goal. In a build up which saw 31 completed passes before it even reached the Spaniard i think that must be credited. A superb display whether it was Barcelona or Barnsley I'm sure you'll agree and yet another point proving that pass and move is an ideology that works, it's not old fashioned, it's just good football.

Torres finished with another close range effort eventually when he finally received the ball after all that passing. 

A clean sheet, three goals, no real defensive mishaps, an actual good display from Poulsen, all this without Gerrard or Carragher and done almost effortlessly. We made Wolves' 1-0 win at Anfield look pathetic and i for one am so glad because it was my turn to gloat to the Wolves supporting fella! He thought it was funny to make a one and a zero with his hands but he didn't like receiving a three and a zero from my hands in a picture message! Haha.

Here's a short video i took (sound quality ain't great) from the fans singing You'll Never Walk Alone at the end. The banners (white sheets) you can see in the video when i move towards the right of the stand were in memory of Joey Cummins, a massive Liverpool fan who was tragically murdered in the city earlier in the week.


I've only been able to go to see Liverpool on three occasions due to money, fixture clashes with work and difficulty getting to games etc but this game is easily the best so far. Nothing will ever take the magic from watching my first match at Anfield (see here) but performance wise, this game tops it, sitting with the Wolves fans was a minor set back to see this.

Up next is Fulham at home, here's hoping that yesterday's win was the first of many to come!

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