Monday, 28 January 2013

Oldham v Liverpool (FA Cup 4th Round)

After a close game in round three at Mansfield, Rodgers put out a fairly strong side at Oldham but containing youth with a massive trip to Arsenal in midweek.

Oldham had the dream start as a stray hit across the Liverpool box came to M'Changama who swept in a cross which met the head of Matt Smith and flew past Brad Jones to give the home side the lead inside the second minute.

Liverpool's frustration after conceding was clear to see when a scuffle between Simpson and Jones raised the tension and Liverpool equalised through luck as a touch of brilliance from Suarez saw him race down the left before cutting in and attempting to create a chance for Borini but regained the ball and lashed it past Bouzanis to level the tie.

The away end cheered again soon after as a Henderson free-kick glanced off Suarez before crossing the line but sadly for Liverpool the effort was chalked off for offside.

Oldham continued to push for another lead and they were rewarded minutes before the break as poor defending from Liverpool saw Jones spill a cross from Wabara which dropped sweetly for Smith to smash home and seal a brace and send his side 2-1 up into half-time.

After the interval, Liverpool should have had an instant leveller but Borini hooked over from Robinson's cross and the miss proved to be costly as Oldham went two goals clear through nice play which saw Winchester cross to the far post to meet the oncoming Wabara who looped a header over Jones to send the home fans into a rapturous roar.

The tie could have been sealed as Baxter broke through the Liverpool defence after a Coates mistake but hit his shot straight at Jones and this saw a double change from Liverpool with Gerrard and Downing replacing Wisdom and Borini.

The changes sparked a comeback which came from an unlikely source as the ball broke on the edge of the Oldham area to Joe Allen who hit a superb volley which deflected past Bouzanis and give Liverpool hope in the 79th minute.

Gerrard hit a long range shot which cannoned off the crossbar to groans from the away following and soon the final whistle sounded and Oldham had caused a gigantic 'cupset' leaving Liverpool to go home after being outperformed.

Next up is a massive trip to Arsenal and after the defeat today, confidence will be low so a mighty effort will be needed to prevent a repeat of the previous meeting of the sides when Podolski and Cazorla ripped Liverpool up.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Liverpool v Norwich

Liverpool looked to bounce back to winning ways with the hosting of Norwich and for the first time Sturridge and Suarez both started together, Jones deputised for Reina and Carragher started in place of Skrtel.

Liverpool started well and caused early pressure as Downing struck from distance and Sturridge tested Bunn after good exchanges with Suarez.

The breakthrough came in the 26th minute as Suarez attempted to outfox the Norwich defence and when held up the ball bounced nicely for Henderson to let fly with an expert half-volley which glided into the top corner to give the home side the lead.

The lead increased within ten minutes as Sturridge dummied a through pass from Lucas which allowed Suarez in on goal and saw him tap past Bunn for 2-0. Norwich needed more pressure and found it as Holt's volley came close after a frantic goal-mouth scramble but Wisdom prevented any further danger.

The second half saw the continuance of Liverpool's onslaught and the game seemed to be wrapped up on the hour mark as a slick passing exchange saw Henderson put in Downing down the right side and he hit a superb pass across goal for the oncoming Sturridge to tap home for his 3rd goal in as many games and in doing so became the first player since Ray Kennedy in 1974 and the seventh overall to achieve the feat. 

Gerrard hit an excellent fourth with arrowed shot from range in the 66th minute, the scoring finished with a Sterling cross being hit into his own net by defender Bennett 16 minutes from the end and ensured a comfortable win for Liverpool and sent them into seventh place only six points from the illustrious 'top 4'.

Next up is the trip to Oldham in the FA Cup fourth round a game which may see some of the stars rested with the massive trip to Arsenal a few days later.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Manchester United v Liverpool

A place in the fourth round of the FA Cup sealed, Liverpool returned to league duties away to arch rivals Manchester United.

Some surprises in the lineup saw the inclusion of Downing in a front trio with Sterling and Suarez meaning new signing Sturridge and the fit-again Borini began on the bench.

 Both teams started well but it took until the 19th minute for a breakthrough and it came for the home side as an Evra cross looped in and found Van Persie who side-footed past Reina to give United the lead.

The lead could have been doubled within minutes as Van Persie scooped his shot over after being put through on goal by Young.

An amazing block from Agger denied Welbeck after a horrific giveaway by Allen gifted United possession on the edge of the area and Cleverley volleyed wide before a goalmouth scramble saw Skrtel clear the danger by hacking Van Persie's shot off the line but in the melee, a coming together between Kagawa and Reina left the Liverpool keeper injured but able to continue after a short delay which soon saw the whistle for the end of the first half.

Liverpool needed a change and it came with the introduction of Sturridge in place of Lucas and the swap let to a massive change in the Liverpool attack and in the 52nd minute, Liverpool had their first attempt on goal in the game as Suarez teed up Wisdom who shot off target.

Wisdom's miss was soon proved costly as United extended their lead as Van Persie looped in a free-kick which found the unmarked Evra at the back post who headed home with the final touch coming off Vidic. 

 That seemed to spur Liverpool to fight and within minutes they had pulled one back as Gerrard tested De Gea who saved but allowed the oncoming Sturridge to collect the rebound and tap home for his first league goal for Liverpool.

Borini came on to replace Sterling in a change which had been planned before Sturridge had scored and the Liverpool hopes were alive as Sturridge and Borini both went close but they were unable to breach the defence as United held on for the win. 

Next up is the hosting of Norwich on Saturday in a game that surely should end with a Liverpool win but many will remember that after the 5-2 demolition of the Canaries in the previous meeting they went on a stellar unbeaten run and currently sit five points behind their opponents.


Monday, 7 January 2013

Mansfield v Liverpool (FA Cup 3rd Round)

The first weekend of the year means its time for the illustrious FA Cup third round and for Liverpool it was a trip down to Field Mill to face Conference side Mansfield Town.

Daniel Sturridge made his debut in an eleven with a mix of youth and experience and made the perfect start by opening the scoring in the seventh minute after running onto a superb through pass from Jonjo Shelvey.

Sturridge could have hit a quick second in the 14th minute after combining with Shelvey but dwelled on the chance to score and allowed Marriott to save.

Mansfield pushed for an equaliser and Matt Green tested Brad Jones in the Liverpool goal before Sturridge swished through the home defence but failed to setup Shelvey and ended the half with a chance by latching onto a pass from Shelvey and forcing a save from Marriott.

The second half began with a Mansfield onslaught with Howell forcing Jones into a punch at the near post before Carragher made a crucial block and Briscoe tested Jones further. Their attacking intensified as Carragher performed an excellent slide to deny Green and a goalmouth scramble led to two goal line clearances from Liverpool.
The home side's threat led to Suarez coming on in place of Sturridge denying fans the chance to see them play together for the first time but the Uruguayan made a quick impact by connecting to a pass from Downing to put Liverpool 2-0 up just on the hour mark.

The second goal caused uproar as replays showed that Suarez's hand knocked the ball towards goal but none of the officials ruled it as deliberate and the goal stood however the commentary eluded that it was 'the act of a cheat'. So much for impartial commentary and it proved to be the headline following the game.

The home side did secure some consolation though as Matt Green smashed home in the 79th minute but no further threat meant Liverpool secured a win and next will travel to Oldham in the fourth round. Next up is the massive task of Man United on Sunday and the news that Howard Webb will referee makes the task harder as Webb has been criticised in the past and many call him the 12th man for United.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Liverpool v Sunderland

After returning to winning ways against QPR, Liverpool hosted Sunderland hoping for consecutive wins and thankfully the illness to manager Brendan Rodgers had gone allowing him to return to the dugout.

Before kick-off, new signing Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea for £12m was introduced to the fans and will wear the number 15 shirt.

A strong setup of 4-3-3 including a front trio of Sterling, Suarez and Downing started well and could have led as early as the 12th minute as Downing tested Mignolet after a well-taken free kick.

The breakthrough came on 18 minutes after a nice pass from Gerrard found a running Suarez who turned and looped forward a ball for Sterling who scampered towards goal and chipped the ball over Mignolet for a superb lob to put Liverpool 1-0 up.

Sunderland had great chances to equalise via McLean who wasted two shots with only Reina to beat and Kilgallon hit a half-volley which saw a superb reflex save from Reina who seems to be back to form.

Sunderland's failed efforts proved costly when Suarez brushed off a foul from Cuellar to drive a low finish past Mignolet and put Liverpool two goals clear and in firm control.

It could have been worse for Sunderland before the break as Downing latched onto a cross from Henderson but failed to find the net and left Sunderland still in the game.

Sterling could have bagged a brace early in the second half but shot wide but the win was all but sealed in the 52nd minute as a spectacular 60-yard pass from Gerrard found Suarez who controlled before smashing past Mignolet to secure his second brace in four days and scoring his 18th this season to beat his total for the previous season.

Gerrard's assist was his eighth in a season which he seems to be back to his talisman status and now sits top of the league's assist table above Rooney and Mata.

Rodgers could see the game was wrapped up and exchanged Sterling and Henderson with Allen and Suso and the changes nearly led to a fourth goal as Gerrard's volley rebounded off Johnson to force a good save from Mignolet.

The Belgian was a the star for Sunderland despite conceding three goals as without him it could have been far more and he was called into action again to deny Suarez from a hat trick.

The record books opened with the final Liverpool sub as Carragher's entry in place of Skrtel meant he moved to outright second in the Liverpool all-time league appearances list behind Ian Callaghan who will take some catching.

The final whistle went and Liverpool had won comfortably for the second time in a week and with another clean sheet to be proud of.

Next up is a trip to Mansfield Town of the National Conference in the FA Cup third round and a game which could be a cupset with Liverpool's past against non-leaguers not exactly being rosy, Havant leading 2-1 at Anfield being a classic example.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

QPR V Liverpool

Liverpool looked to bounce back from the defeat at Stoke but had an last minute blow with the news that Brad Jones and manager Brendan Rodgers had been sent back to Liverpool due to illness.

This left Colin Pascoe and Mike Marsh in charge for the match against basement boys QPR who last season came from 2-0 down with 13 minutes to go to get a 3-2 at Loftus Road which spearheaded their relegation fight.

Just like at Stoke, Liverpool came flying out of the blocks with Suarez testing Cesar after only three minutes showing Liverpool had come to win and to avenge last season.

In the 10th minute, Suarez gained possession about 30 yards from goal and advanced on the defence swishing past Clint Hill and rolling the ball past Cesar into the bottom corner to open the scoring.

QPR looked really open to the Liverpool attack and only six minutes later the lacklustre defence of the home side proved costly as Suarez shimmied into the box and swept a cross over to Sterling, the ball was cleared straight to Suarez who then fired into the net and sealed his brace to put Liverpool clear with only a quarter of the game played.

Liverpool have had problems in the past at 2-0 in killing the fight of the opposition and today learned from their mistakes as in the 28th minute, Downing took a short corner to Gerrard who whipped in a cross and found the head of Agger who smashed it home for a 3-0 lead inside half an hour.

Both Henderson and Gerrard had the chance to make it 4-0 before the break while the only QPR threat came from Taarabt who tested Reina several times but the Liverpool keeper came out on top each time.

Liverpool began the second half like the first with Suarez testing Cesar looking to seal his hat trick with a left footed drive but QPR came out and looked like a different team as they attacked Liverpool with Traore flashing the ball across the box only for the incoming Mackie to be unable to connect to the pass.

Mbia came close with a free-kick forcing a good save from Reina but the comeback didn't come and Liverpool held on for a comfortable win to take back to Anfield.

Next up is Sunderland travelling to Anfield in a game which is always tight and even more so with Sunderland defeating Man City and narrowly losing to Spurs this week.