Saturday, 23 February 2013

Liverpool v Zenit (Europa League)

Monday, 18 February 2013

Liverpool v Swansea

After two defeats so far this week to West Brom and Zenit, Liverpool looked to bounce back against Swansea in a game brought forward due to the Swans participation in the Capital One Cup final next weekend.  
Rodgers handed Coutinho his first start while Sturridge returned from injury.

The first threat came from Suarez who tested Vorm after finding some space in the box and Downing had a chance from the edge of the box which went past the post.
Liverpool seemed to be taking control early on as Gerrard swept a free-kick into the Swansea wall and Suarez hit the rebound waywardly into the Kop.

The best chance came in the 23rd minute as Downing weaved into some space down the right and swept in a ball to Sturridge who narrowly headed over. Suarez then sent Sturridge on a run but as he tried to fashion a shot, Swansea trapped him and he seemed to be tripped by Bartley but referee Webb saw no infringement and as the ball broke to Coutinho he hit it wide.

Liverpool's domination let to an opening in the 34th minute as Suarez received Gerrard's corner he attempted to weave through the defence by was stopped by Agustien who brought him down and gave Webb no choice but to award the penalty. Gerrard had missed on Monday but this time stepped up and slotted home past Vorm to open the scoring.

The lead could have been two at the break were it not for Bartley heading off the line from Sturridge's dink over Vorm but 1-0 it stayed into the interval.

Swansea's hope of levelling was quickly spoilt as from the kick off, Suarez collected the ball and flicked on for Coutinho who ran at the defence before curling a shot into the corner past Vorm to score his first goal for the club on his full debut.

His tally could have doubled within minutes as he tried to outfox Vorm with a classy back-heel but it slithered past the post, Liverpool did get a third in the 50th minute in what was one of the team goal's of the season as Coutinho, Suarez and Sturridge all combined to put in Enrique who exchanged a one-two with Sturridge before tapping in from close range.

Swansea looked out of the game and their decision to rest stars Michu and Williams proved to be most costly as a fourth went in for Liverpool as Suarez's mazy run outclassed two defenders and allowed him to fire into the bottom corner from 18 yards for his 23rd of the season.

Coutinho left the field to a standing ovation and on in his place was Henderson and the change added to the Liverpool attack as Sturridge was denied twice by Vorm's fine saves but his luck changed in the 71st minute as a cross swept in hit the hand of Routledge and a penalty was awarded and Gerrard allowed him to take the spot kick which he fired past Vorm expertly.

Liverpool could have added more but left it at 5-0 as the final whistle went and collected a few records for their performance having scored more than any other team in 2013, having more shots this season than anyone else and the highest amount in a single game (35).

Next up is the hosting of Zenit in the Europa League with a two goal deficit to turn around in order to progress in the competition.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Zenit v Liverpool (Europa League)

After the defeat against West Brom, Liverpool travelled to Russia to face Zenit St Petersburg in the 1st leg of the last 32 of the Europa League.

Rodgers included Sterling, Allen and Skrtel in place of Shelvey, Lucas and Agger and in the opening minutes both sides could have scored as Hulk volleyed at Reina only to be denied by a low stop and a Liverpool attack saw Suarez hit a shot which narrowly went past the far post.

Hulk was denied again after a low drive was parried by Reina and in the 16th minute, Suarez had a great chance to open the scoring when he ran clear of the Zenit back line and took the ball round Malafeev but his final touch proved to be too heavy and the Lombaerts caught up and denied Liverpool from taking the lead.

Suarez and Hulk seemed to be causing the most trouble for their opposition and Hulk smashed a shot against the post with Reina stranded but the ball rolled across the goal and with no Zenit runners to tap in it allowed Liverpool to clear to safety.

Suarez went close just before the break as he flicked Sterling's cross towards goal but it went the wrong side of the post and just after the restart, Johnson's pacey run took him into the box and hit for goal with Malafeev successfully denying him and Suarez later curled a shot wide on the hour mark as Liverpool pushed just like they had done on Monday but with no goals for their effort.

Their lack of conversion proved costly in the 69th minute as Hulk unleashed a stunning effort from 30 yards out which sailed past Reina and into the top corner to give Zenit the lead and with the momentum they quickly added a second ad Semak latched on to a deep cross while unmarked at the back post to tap home and leave Liverpool stunned and with a mountain to climb to stay in the tie.

Sadly, Liverpool were unable to muster any further clear chances and as the final whistle went they knew a historic night at Anfield next Thursday would be needed in order to stay in the competition.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

West Brom v Liverpool

After throwing away another 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 this time against Man City, Liverpool travelled to face West Brom hoping to avoid being doubled after being humbled 3-0 at Anfield on the opening day of the season.

The night was devoted to the cause 'Seeing is Believing' and saw two players chalk up milestones as Glen Johnson started his 100th league game for Liverpool and Lucas made his 200th appearance for the club.

Phillipe Coutinho started on the bench while Jonjo Shelvey replaced the injured Daniel Sturridge in the attack.

Liverpool started well and even had the ball in the net after nine minutes after Foster saved Johnson's volley it fell to Shelvey who hit home only to have his effort ruled out due to being in an offside position. The pressure continued and Foster tipped over a Agger effort midway through the half and Suarez's outrageous rabona flick had Anfield stunned in admiration but no one could convert from his pass.

Downing cut in from the right and tested Foster from range but the attacks didn't seem to be as potent as they have been in recent weeks. West Brom came close to handing an opening goal to the hosts as Shelvey's low cross hit the leg of Steven Reid and looped agonisingly over the net leaving the teams level at the interval.

Liverpool began the second period well and Foster was forced to deny Gerrard from point-blank range and Henderson's back heeled chance before Shelvey guided Carragher's headed chance wide of the post as the momentum built for the home side.

On came Sterling and Borini in place of Henderson and Shelvey and the Italian went close to an instant impact but his shot on goal was an easy take for Foster which was easier than his next save from a stunning effort from Gerrard which took a strong save to deny an opening goal.

77 minutes gone and still no breakthrough but then Olsson shoved Suarez over in the box and Liverpool were awarded a penalty, up stepped Gerrard and Foster saved well to deny Gerrard yet again.

The penalty miss soon proved to be costly as from a corner in the 81st minute up popped McAuley to head in unmarked and leave all the home crowd stunned and give the visitors the lead.

Liverpool pushed for an equaliser but the game was over as a contest as stoppage time began as Lukaku raced clear to fire past Reina and condemn Liverpool to a defeat they really didn't deserve.

Rodgers mentioned that in recent weeks the team has progressed but personally I really don't see how blowing three consecutive games after dominating all the way through is progress. If luck had gone our way we would have taken nine points from three games and not a measly two. 

Next up is a tough trip to face Russian side Zenit St Petersburg in the last 32 of the Europa League and after impressive performances before their exit from the Champions League, Zenit are a team to be worried about especially when playing in Russia.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Man City v Liverpool

After blowing a 2-0 lead at Arsenal to draw 2-2, Liverpool travelled to Eastlands to face Premier League champions Manchester City.

Unlike in midweek where they started well, Liverpool were under pressure early on as Silva tested Reina and the shot was tipped over the bar.

Liverpool withstood the pressure and in the 14th minute, had a brilliant chance after a move saw Sturridge found in the box and past Hart with an empty net at his mercy but luckily for City - Zabaleta was on hand to rescue his side and prevent Sturridge from opening the scoring.

However in the 24th minute, City found the breakthrough as Milner went down the touchline and crossed into the box to provide Dzeko with an easy tap in past Reina.

Their lead lasted only a few minutes as Agger's tackle on Dzeko left the Bosnian in a heap but play continued and the ball came to Sturridge who fired into the bottom corner from 20 yards to level the scores. City were furious that the ball had not been put out of play but as rules dictate it is not mandatory to do so and Dzeko was back up and requiring no treatment almost immediately after Sturridge scored.

As the half drew to a close, Liverpool seemed to be the stronger and Zabaleta could have gone from  hero to villain as he came close to putting the ball in his own net and Suarez tested Hart with a well taken volley.

The second half began with Liverpool continuing the pressure on City and Lescott saved the home sides blushes by blocking a chance from Carragher after Suarez's volleyed cross.

Liverpool soon found a way to convert their attacking dominance and it came in the 73rd minute as the ball dropped to Gerrard and he unleashed a stunning volley which sailed past Hart and into the bottom corner after he had chested it down from 30 yards out.

Luck was soon to desert Liverpool just like in the teams previous meeting when Liverpool led 2-1, this time Aguero took the ball just outside the box and with Reina coming towards him and after leaving an open goal gaping, Reina saw an acrobatic shot from Aguero nestle in the corner from the most acute of angles to level the scores and see Liverpool blow a 2-1 lead for second time in a week.

Both sides pushed for a winner but to no avail and meant a repeat scoreline of the previous meeting and left Liverpool disappointed at dropping two points from such a comfortable position.

After facing United, Arsenal and City in the league, Liverpool have a slightly easier next two with West Brom and Swansea the next two opponents but many will remember that Albion embarrassed Liverpool on the opening day of the season and Swansea dumped the Reds out of the League Cup, how apt that the game is being played a week early due to Swansea playing in the final.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Arsenal v Liverpool

After the shock defeat in the FA Cup to Oldham Athletic, Liverpool resumed their Premier League duties with a trip to Arsenal.

The team saw seven changes from the weekend with the inclusion of Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Lucas Leiva, Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing with new signing Phillipe Coutinho watching on from the stands.

Liverpool had to be cautious of an early opening from Arsenal after what Oldham did in the third minute in Sunday, but this time it was Liverpool who took an early chance as Sagna's slip allowed Johnson to swoop in and cross for Sturridge. Szczesny blocked the shot but saw the ball roll to Henderson who squared for Suarez who in turn swept the ball home to send the away fans into a jubilant roar.

Arsenal should have levelled instantly but a drive from Walcott was ably saved by Reina and Liverpool pushed for a second as Suarez's superb pass put Sturridge in the clear but his volley went wide and Giroud went close for the home side.

Reina frustrated Walcott again this time flinging himself acrobatically to tip a goal-bound curler round the post before Liverpool tried again and came achingly close as Gerrard swung in a corner it met the head of Agger who's header was crucially cleared off the line by Podolski.

Arsenal were flagging and were lucky not to be two down at the break as Downing put in a pass to Henderson who tried a lob over Szczesny only to see go over by a narrow margin and meant his side went in just the one goal up.

Arsenal needed to hit back quickly to stem the Liverpool assault and Walcott continued to threaten by heading narrowly over 10 minutes into the second half and it seemed like Arsenal had the momentum but they were stunned when Liverpool struck their second expertly created and finished by Henderson, he swept into the box and pass four defenders before tapping into the empty net from a ricochet to put Liverpool in a great position for the win.

But despite the goal, Arsenal's momentum bore fruit as Giroud headed home from Podolski's free-kick to put one back but within minutes they hit an equaliser after a nice exchange of passes saw Walcott unleashed shot across goal which beat Reina to nestle in the bottom corner to silence the away end and cause a roar from the the home faithful.

Arsenal were looking the more likely to hit a winner but Liverpool could have sealed a late winner as Suarez tested Szczesny with only a fine save denied the Uruguayan the plaudits and his side the three points.

Next up is another tough away day this time at the Etihad against the Champions, Manchester City on Sunday. Many will remember that Liverpool should have been going for a double against the Blues this week but the Skrtel back pass at 2-1 saw a win snatched and a draw rescued for City in the fixture at Anfield last year.