Friday, 28 December 2012

Stoke v Liverpool

A tough trip to the Britannia today to emulate the fact that no Liverpool side had won there since 1984 and Rodgers kept the same eleven that defeated Fulham.

Liverpool started well and took the lead within the first two minutes after a darting run by Suarez into the box saw him hauled down by Ryan Shawcross and Liverpool were awarded their first penalty of the season which Gerrard powered into the bottom corner.

However the lead was to be short lived as in the fifth minute as Walters cut through the defence and side-footed past Reina to level the scores. 

Stoke were buoyed by the equaliser and used the momentum to take the lead in the 12th minute as Kenwyne Jones popped up at the near post to head past Reina and silence the travelling kopites.

Liverpool should have drawn level just on the half-hour mark after Downing put in Gerrard who exchanged passes with Suarez before firing a shot over the bar.

 Stoke should have gone two goals clear just before the break, when Etherington raced through on goal but Reina denied him to save Liverpool's blushes.

The Liverpool comeback suffered a massive blow after only four minutes of the second half as Jones flicked in a great cross which Walters skilfully chested before volleying into the corner to put Stoke 3-1 up.

Liverpool had a late chance to close the deficit but Gerrard's shot forced a good save from Begovic and meant Liverpool's barren run at Stoke continued for another year.

Next up is QPR and surely a return to winning ways for Liverpool against a side with only one win this season but with the luck Liverpool are having this season, no one would rule out QPR causing a surprise.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Liverpool v Fulham

The defeat to Villa now a week old, Liverpool played host to Fulham hoping to get back to winning ways and with a hectic festive schedule ahead in came Suso and Downing while Sterling and Allen dropped to the bench.

Liverpool started well as Agger headed over after a nice flick from Jonjo Shelvey which caused chaos in the box and within minutes they were in front after a well controlled Gerrard corner found Skrtel who volleyed into the top corner to break the deadlock in the eighth minute.

The lead should have increased with both Agger and Downing trying their luck but in the 36th minute the advantage stretched to two goals as Downing put a nice pass into the box and in ran Gerrard to turn and drive the ball past Schwarzer into the bottom corner and Liverpool had a comfortable lead into the interval.

Fulham had no real threat and in trying to force their way back into the game they left themselves open to a Liverpool counter-attack which saw Downing carve in from the right and surge into the box before smashing the ball in past Schwarzer to surely kill off any Fulham hopes after only 51 minutes.

Schwarzer denied Liverpool from hitting a fourth with some skillful saves but in injury time his heroics were over as Suarez tapped home to secure a well deserved win for the home side in their last home game of 2012.

Next up is the first of a quick treble as Liverpool travel to face Stoke on Boxing day before QPR and Sunderland either side of the new year.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Liverpool v Aston Villa

The amazing comeback at West Ham a week old, Liverpool hosted Aston Villa in a game I personally expect a Liverpool win in each year.

Liverpool were on a three game winning streak and started well with Shelvey and Sterling both being denied in the early stages by fine defending and Liverpool were on top.

However in the 29th minute against the run of play, Villa opened the scoring as Benteke swooped the ball in past Reina to the surprise of the home fans and sent the away fans into a roar.

Suarez could have equalised instantly but hit his shot against the side netting and Weimann came close to adding to Villa's score but his lob went over.

The second goal did come and it came for Villa after a scorching breakaway allowed Weimann to fire past Reina and send the Kop into stunned silence with five minutes until the break.

Liverpool came out in the second half needing a minor miracle to keep up the winning streak but hopes were dashed within seven minutes as Benteke broke on the defence and side footed past Reina to put Villa 3-0 up and all but seal a win.

Liverpool had a great chance as after Suarez's shot was blocked, Cole and Henderson both were denied in a goalmouth scramble.

The game seemed die off a touch and it wasn't until the 87th minute, that Liverpool found the net as an exquisite drive from Johnson took a touch off the head of Gerrard and flew in to give the Anfield faithful something to finally cheer about even though it only served as a consolation.

The winning streak ended for Liverpool and in emphatic fashion with a shock loss but hopes will be up for the visit of Fulham to L4 on Saturday evening.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

West Ham United v Liverpool

After securing qualification for the knock-out stages of the Europa League, Liverpool resumed their domestic campaign away to West Ham at Upton Park.

Luis Suarez's booking last weekend meant he was suspended and Rodgers' line-up had Jonjo Shelvey playing in a 'false 9' role or in the formation of a 4-6-0 which was used in the 2-2 draw with Young Boys recently.

 The home side started the better and could have been ahead in the sixth minute after Jarvis' cross was cleared by Agger into the path of Diame who hit a shot that deflected of Carlton Cole and crept past the post.

In the 10th minute, Gerrard spotted Johnson in space down the right who then took the ball past Jarvis,headed for the box and on the edge unleashed a screamer which flew into the top corner to put Liverpool 1-0 up.

The lead should have been doubled within minutes as Sterling had two good chances to score, the first came as he cut through the defence and fired a low shot in which failed to test Jaaskelainen and the second came after some skillful movement by Johnson but again no test for the keeper.

West Ham's force down the left wing continued to cause trouble for Liverpool and on the half-hour, Jarvis swept in a cross for Cole but Agger thwarted the chance with an amazing block.

However in the 35th minute, disaster in the Liverpool box as a shot from Demel struck the arm of Joe Allen and a penalty was awarded. Noble struck the penalty well past a diving Reina and the Hammers were level.

West Ham pushed to take the lead and luck seemed to be on their side as a dangerous cross from Jarvis hit the head of Gerrard who headed it into his own net to give the Hammers the lead and left the Liverpool captain devastated with his side two minutes from the break.

West Ham began the second half full of confidence with Diame and Nolan the standout stars for the Hammers.

Sterling should have equalised after being picked out by Downing and being free in the box he forced a superb save from Jaaskelainen and Downing was again the creator as he set a chance for Shelvey who nodded wide.

Then a breakthrough for Liverpool with 15 minutes to go as Sterling and Henderson exchanged passes and found Joe Cole in space, Cole hit the ball across goal and past Jaaskelainen to bring Liverpool level at 2-2.

The teams were level for all of three minutes as Henderson broke down the right wing and spotted Shelvey in the box, in came the cross and Shelvey went for the ball with defender Collins and Collins got the first touch but in doing so flicked the ball over the keeper and into his own net to hand the lead to Liverpool at 3-2.

Neither side were able to add to the score in the final minutes and at the sound of the whistle, Liverpool had secured a memorable win after an inspired comeback the kind not seen since the time of Benitez and also meant that the win propelled them into the top half of the table.

Next up is Aston Villa at home on Saturday and with Villa struggling this season, Liverpool will be confident of adding to the three game unbeaten streak they have while also hoping to improve on the 1-1 draw from last season.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Udinese v Liverpool

With a good win over Southampton at the weekend, Liverpool focused their attention on the Europa League and in securing a safe passage to the knockout stages. 

Rodgers took a strong side over to face already-eliminated Udinese who themselves had a familiar face to Liverpool with former red Daniele Padelli in goal. 

Both sides started well but the first opening came from Liverpool with Suso swishing past two defenders to put in a dangerous cross which was cleared safely and set Udinese on the attack down the right with the resulting cross finding the head of Ranegie who powered a header just wide of post.

Pereyra caused trouble moments later by unleashing a shot which evaded his teammates and dipped towards Reina who tipped it over the bar.

Udinese were made to pay for not converting their early chances as Liverpool opened the scoring in the 23rd minute as Suarez directed a corner to the back post which after being flicked on by Suso found the path of Henderson who hammered past Padelli to put Liverpool in front.

Just before the break, Suarez could have added to the score with an overhead kick which looked to be on target until Padelli managed to put it behind the goal.

After the interval, Liverpool continued their attack as Suarez fooled two defenders which allowed Suso some space to test Padelli but as the ball came to him he failed to hit the target.

News of Young Boys leading against Anzhi meant for Liverpool to go through it was win or bust and it was nearly bust as Armero headed for goal after spinning past Suso but luckily for Liverpool, Skrtel directed the cross away to safety and from the resulting corner, Ranegie powered a header at goal only to see it creep over the crossbar.

Henderson should have hit a brace on the hour after Shelvey gained possession put in Enrique who swept in a brilliant cross which found Henderson who hit towards the top corner only to be thwarted by Padelli.

Downing continued the pressure in finding Suarez who scythed past two to poke towards goal but yet again Padelli kept the ball out of his net with an amazing save.

Udinese's fight was dealt a crucial blow after Pasquale was shown a second booking for a dangerous challenge in Sterling and Liverpool looked from there to see the game out but with the last kick of the game, their hopes came so near to disaster after Di Natale ran on to a pass and was in on goal with the chance to condemn Liverpool and send Young Boys through but as his shot flew over the bar, Liverpool's blushes were spared.

The final whistle went and Liverpool progressed safely meaning European football will definitely be on schedule in 2013 and even better thanks to Anzhi's defeat, Liverpool topped the group and go into the draw as a seeded team.

Next up is the trip down to London to face West Ham which in the past has been a tough game but after last week's humiliation of Chelsea, the Hammers will be confident of a double over the European participants.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Liverpool v Southampton

Southampton were the visitors to Anfield after the defeat in midweek to Tottenham as Liverpool looked to bounce back and push up the table.

The naming of Lucas Leiva in the starting lineup was a welcome sight for the home fans and also the inclusion of Jonjo Shelvey in the eleven was well deserved after a string of good performances as a substitute.

Liverpool started well and could have taken the lead in the 10th minute when Glen Johnson latched on to a Suarez cross at the front post but the shot spun wide.

Shelvey seemed to have settled well in the advanced role alongside Suarez and Sterling and had two good chances to break the deadlock, the first forcing a save from Gazzaniga and the second smashed against the inside of the post.

Liverpool had a penalty shout when Suarez was pulled back in the box but he hung on and got a shot on goal but failed to hit the back of the net. The net did bulge in the 43rd minute after a superb free-kick from Suarez pinged off the crossbar to reach Johnson who swept in a wondrous cross which was met by the head of Daniel Agger who headed home to give the home side the lead into the break.

Southampton came out and pushed for the equaliser which saw Lucas show why he was missed so much while injured as he held the midfield line well to deny the Southampton attacks.

Enrique could have sealed the game after bursting into the box and receiving a nice pass from Suarez but missed the target with the shot and forced a save from Gazzaniga with 15 minutes to go after a well taken half-volley.

Lucas left the field in the 88th minute to rapturous applause to be replaced by Jamie Carragher and after being out for three months, he did well to last so long while putting in a good performance.

A nice exchange of passes between Johnson, Gerrard and Sterling allowed Suarez to try his luck from close range but his chance went begging after struggling to adjust his position on the ball and he had the final chance of the game but hit the ball wide from 10 yards out.

So Agger's header gives Liverpool a well deserved win and moves them up to 11th  just behind struggling Arsenal who fell to a 2-0 defeat at home to Swansea after a late brace from Michu who joined Suarez at the top of the scoring charts

Next up for Liverpool is the daunting trip to Italy to face Udinese in a game which will hopefully secure the passage into the Europa League last 32 before then travelling to face West Ham at the weekend who shocked Chelsea 3-1 this afternoon after trailing 1-0 at half-time before a scintillating trio of strikes to seal the win.

Tottenham v Liverpool

After continuing the unbeaten run in a hard fought draw at Swansea, Liverpool travelled to Tottenham, looking to keep up the run going and hoping for a win.

Rodgers fielded an unchanged eleven from Sunday but found his side behind as early as the 7th minute after Gareth Bale thundered down the left side leaving Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Joe Allen all trailing behind him before sliding a perfect cross to the unmarked Aaron Lennon who tapped in at the back post.

Liverpool pushed for the equaliser and Suarez tested Lloris in the Spurs goal from the edge of the area but saw his shot saved and within minutes, Liverpool should have been level as Henderson found himself with an open goal to shoot at but from 20 yards out he missed the target after pressure from Walker.

Henderson's miss proved costly as Spurs increased their lead in the 16th minute with another moment of sheer skill by Bale as he glided in a superb free kick which looked to deflect off the wall and leave Reina with no chance of keeping it out.

Liverpool now had a massive task to keep their unbeaten run intact and were denied what looked to be a stonewall penalty as Sandro shoved Gerrard to the ground with the ball rolling to Suarez who had his shot cleared off the line to leave Liverpool still two goals down when they had two great chances in a single attack and the scoreline stayed that way into the break.

In the second half, Liverpool pushed to get back into the game but a series of chances failed to bear fruit and Rodgers brought on Shelvey for Henderson and the substitute had an influence in Liverpool pulling a goal back in the 72nd minute.

 He took the corner which was kept in play by Agger and then Gerrard who hit for goal but the resulting clearance from Lennon ricocheted of Bale's face to fly into the net and leave Bale flat out on the ground after the impact.

Suarez came close to an equaliser with a well taken volley which crept just over the bar after an overhead kick cross by Agger but left Liverpool leaving North London with a loss and with the eight game unbeaten run in tatters.

Next up is a home tie against Southampton, the last meeting between the two was in the year of Istanbul (04/05) which saw a 1-0 win for Liverpool thanks to a Florent Sinama-Pongolle strike.