Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Toffees Come Unstuck Against Rampant Reds

After securing a FA Cup fifth round draw away to Arsenal, Liverpool played host to fierce rivals Everton in the Merseyside Derby with devastating results for the boys in Blue.

Only three changes were made from the team that defeated Bournemouth with Flanagan, Mignolet and Sterling returning while Brad Smith was named on the bench as Rodgers looked for a first win over Everton.

Surprisingly, Everton had the first scoring chance as Barkley collected the ball and raced forward and uleashed a powerful effort that skimmed over the crossbar but Liverpool replied and Howard was called into action by a strong volley from Henderson and Suarez and Sterling combined with the former hitting a shot that drew a comfortable save from Howard.

Howard found himself busy again as Sterling connected to a Sturridge pass and hit goalwards but was denied by the American, Henderson and Suarez exchanged passes with the Uruguayan taking a shot that was cleared for a corner, he took the set-piece himself and found his captain perfectly who hit past Howard and sent Anfield into celebration.

Everton were dealt a double blow as after the goal, star striker Lukaku went off injured and in his place came Naismith who scored a double at the weekend and Liverpool sensed a chance to go further in front and as the SAS combined, Sturridge curled a shot achingly over the bar as Everton needed a response.

They did respond and forced Mignolet into a stretching save as Jagielka tested the Belgian who was then beaten by fellow countryman Mirallas who hit an effort from 20 yards that despite beating Mignolet went wide.

Mirallas' miss was the prelude to a spectacular response as Coutinho created a superb through ball that sliced the Everton backline open and found Sturridge who took a touch and to stunning effect lifted the ball over Howard to the astonishment and joy of the Kop.

Before the dust could settle on the second goal, it was three as Toure loft the ball forward and Sturridge connected to race towards the Everton goal and lob a superb effort high into the air and accurately into the far corner as Howard was beaten for the second time in as many minutes.

Everton needed an Istanbul-type comeback to claim anything from the game and Mignolet was forced into an early save by Osman who had come on at half-time but it was to no avail as Liverpool hit a fourth as Suarez connected to a mistake from Jagielka on the half-way line and raced the length of the Everton half to finish past Howard.

Four should have been five when Sterling raced into the area and was fouled by Howard who conceded a penalty but received no further action and Sturridge was given the chance for a ha-trick by regular taker Gerrard but blazed the ball into the Kop.

McCarthy had a good chance to pull one back but Mignolet saved low from his clipped effort and at the final whistle, the Anfield faithful celebrated a superb win that is their highest in the Derby since 1982 and they move on triumphantly to West Brom on Sunday.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

SAS Combine to Down Cherries

The Merseyside Derby awaits on Tuesday but today saw Liverpool travel to face AFC Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round with a number of changes that saw Jones, Kelly and Moses come in as the SAS continued their partnership.

Bournemouth started well and had a superb chance early on as Surman headed for goal but saw his effort go over the bar, Arter hit a threatening pass across the area which was cleared by Kelly and Francis tested Jones with a clever free-kick.

Liverpool began to get into the game with Moses and Suarez both creating space but it was minutes later that they made an impact as Suarez picked out Moses who fired past Camp to open the scoring and give the visiting fans some joy after 26 minutes.

Bournemouth fought back and Surman forced a vital block from Toure with Elphick heading over from a dangerous corner, both sides pushed for a goal as Suarez capitalised on a defensive mistake to pick out Henderson who hit over the bar.

Skrtel ensured that the lead stayed with Liverpool by denying Arter who's effort looked set to beat Jones as the game went into the half-time break. Bournemouth continued where they had left off by pegging Liverpool back which saw a tactical switch of Gerrard dropping to centre back while Sktrel had to be treated after a collision with Surman.

The change didn't phase Liverpool though as they increased the lead on the hour-mark when Gerrard found Coutinho who in turn found Suarez and the Uruguayan picked out his fellow SAS partner Sturridge who hit past Camp for a 2-0 lead.

Bournemouth could have gone further behind in the 76th minute when Sturridge returned the favour to Suarez but the resulting lobbed effort went over the bar and Liverpool held on for a safe passage to the fifth round which will be drawn tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Gerrard Rescues Reds In Villa Draw

After the eight goal thriller against Stoke last week, Liverpool looked to continue their fine home form but had to settle for a points after a  fightback against Aston Villa.

Sturridge made his first start since returning from injury in place of Lucas but it was the visitors that made the best start as after only 45 seconds, Agbonlahor latched on to a header and faced Mignolet one-on-one but hit past the wrong side of the post. 

Villa looked to be the better side as they attacked menacingly again as Weimann picked out Westwood with a cross but the resulting shot drew a comfortable save from Mignolet. Sturridge responded for the hosts as he hit a curler that narrowly went over but Villa went even closer as Westwood swung in a corner and Clark connected to head against the post.

Liverpool's setup meant the counter attack was theit main tactics and but it served a cost as Agbonalhor raced down the left and past Toure to sweep a cross to the far post and saw Weimann convert after ghosting in front of Gerrard.

Sterling tested Guzan after being found by Suarez but it was Villa scored next and Agbonlahor was again the creator as he hit a threatening cross which was achingly missed by Mignolet and headed into the open net by Benteke as thoughts cast to Villa's 3-1 win at Anfield last year in which the scorers were replicated.

 As the half-time interval neared Liverpool got themselves back in the game as the Sturridge made it two in two after being expertly setup by Henderson from the edge of the area and the striker hit past Guzan to a raucous cheer from the home fans.

Rodgers made a change and Lucas came on in place of Coutinho as the formation reshuffled and eight minutes later, Liverpool were level as Guzan conceded a penalty after looking to have fouled Suarez and Gerrard coverted from the spot to rescue Liverpool yet again with his 22nd successful  Premier League penalty.

Villa had to push to regain the lead and came very close as Delph hit a powerful effort which narrowly missed the target and Guzan was soon forced to deny Liverpool twice in a couple of minutes as Johnson picked out Suarez who tested the American and then he denied Henderson after the SAS combined.

Suarez looked to put Liverpool in front with one of his trademark set-pieces but sadly he hit it wide and as both teams pushed for a winner it was to no avail as they had to settle for a point apiece.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

SAS Triumph In Stoke Thriller

Liverpool returned to the top four after coming out on top in an eight goal thriller away to Stoke.

The return to the starting eleven of captain Steven Gerrard was buoyed by the news that Daniel Sturridge was named on the bench after a long injury layoff, Stoke started with heavy pressure forcing a number of corners but it was the visitors that struck first as Sterling lifted a cross in and found Cissokho who hit a powerful effort at goal but got lucky as it deflected in off the unfortunate Shawcross for a 1-0 lead.

Sterling was the creator again as he pulled the ball back to Coutinho who hit a curling shot that's narrowly went over the crossbar, Arnautovic hit a volleyed chance off target while Toure denied Crouch a shot at goal from a Stoke corner.

Liverpool countered and Suarez hit a free-kick wide with the visitors expecting a repeat of his recent heroics but within minutes, he showed why he is the league's top scorer as he capitalised on a defensive mistake to slot past Butland for a two goal lead.

Recent away trips have seen Liverpool lead and be pegged back and soon history repeated itself as former red Crocuh connected with an Arnautovic cross to head home past Mignolet to make it 2-1, Suarez clipped the ball into Coutinho at the other end and forced a superb save from Butland.

Stoke levelled just before the interval as the curse of the former reds struck again as Adam hit a long range shot that sailed past Mignolet to cancel out a Liverpool away lead yet again. Stoke began the second half the better but it was Liverpool that struck first after Gerrard converted from the spot after Wilson had fouled Sterling.

Sturridge made his comeback from injury in the 66th minute in place of Coutinho but Stoke had a brilliant chance to level when N'Zonzi hit a curling shot that looked to be going into the top corner but was denied by a well timed block.

After a long wait, the SAS were back in business as Sturridge picked out Suarez who hit a superb curler past Butland into the far corner to make it 4-2 and surely dampen Stoke's comeback. However, Walters connected to a Crouch delivery and was excellently denied by Mignolet.

Five minutes to go and Stoke hit a third as Walters broke through the defence and finished past Mignolet to ensure a frantic finish at 4-3 but the Liverpool nerves were ended by a stunning ending as Suarez found Sturridge who hit for goal only to see Butland deny him but a chip and headed skill saw him convert his second chance to make it an incredible score of 5-3.

There could have been more as Crouch headed against the post and Mignolet luckily prevented Gerrard from hitting into his own net as Liverpool held on for a first league win at the Britannia.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Aspas Prevents Double Exit To Oldham

Friday, 3 January 2014

Reds Claim Hull Revenge

Liverpool bounced back from the double Christmas defeats to gain revenge on Hull for the 3-1 defeat in the previous meeting as they moved back into the top four.

Cissokho and a rare start for Aspas replaced the injured Allen and Sakho with the fit-again captain Gerrard on the bench as both sides made a mixed start at a wind swept Anfield, Hull had the first real chance as Sagbo hit a volley over the crossbar.

Suarez found space and hit a chancing lob across goal but it failed to test McGregor but the Uruguayan did have the ball in the net after connecting to Coutinho's free-kick but was pulled back for offside.

Coutinho and Sterling both had chances with Suarez picking out Sterling with a header but the winger's side-footed chance was blocked but Liverpool did take the lead in the 36th minute as Agger met Coutinho's corner to head past McGregor for his first goal of the season.

Henderson had a chance to make it two when Aspas deflected a Coutinho pass into his path but he hit the ball wide of the left post as Liverpool went into half-time with a slender 1-0 lead. The lead became two after five minutes of the second half as Suarez hit his 20th league goal of the season with a stunning free-kick from 25 yards that curled past McGregor to double the lead.

Hull rung the changes with a trio of substitutions but Liverpool made an important one of their own as Gerrard returned following a month out to boost the home fans confidence while Coutinho clipped an effort off target followed by a threatening shot which forced a good save from McGregor.

Huddlestone tested Mignolet to no avail and Elmohamady volleyed over as the seconds ticked down but there was time for one last piece of action as Suarez hit for goal from 40 yards from a set-piece but found the Kop as Liverpool returned to winning ways.

Next up is the FA Cup third round tie against last seasons giant-killers Oldham as Liverpool look to avenge their 2013 exit at the hands of the Latics.