Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Chelsea Dent Title Hopes

Atop the league table, Liverpool knew that a win over Chelsea would put them within reach of a first Premier League title but what took place at Anfield on Sunday threw the title race wide open.

Rodgers names an unchanged line-up meaning Sturridge would only be named on the bench and in a break of what has been an Anfield tradition this season, Liverpool's blitzing style didn't take as Chelsea had the first chance as Cole clipped an effort towards goal forcing Mignolet to palm away to safety.

Johsnon looked to surprise his former side after being picked out from Gerrard's corner but his shot was deflected behind and Coutinho hit wide after Suarez found the Brazilian from out wide, Cole cleared well from a dangerous corner with Suarez volleyed the rebound and Sakho hitting over the bar.

Cole lost possession and Liverpool capitalised with Couthinho and Sterling combining to pick out Suarez but the Uruguayan curled his effort too high to trouble Schwarzer. The half-time interval was just minutes away and then disaster struck for Liverpool as a Sahko pass for Gerrard resulted in the captain slipping and letting in Ba who took advantage and slotted past Mignolet.

Liverpool came out for the second period looking to comeback in order to keept their unbeaten run intact and tested Schwarzer with a blast from Gerrard with the Australian called into action to deny Allen whose volleyed looked certain to level the score.

Chelsea looked to counter and forced Mignolet into a superb save as he denied Schurrle with Liverpool countering themselves and Allen and Gerrard had efforts saved by Schwarzer. Liverpool's countering was to cost them in the final minutes as from a set-piece, Sturridge passed back but only found Willian who put in Torres before the two raced clear past Gerrard.

Torres was one-on-one with Mignolet but squared for Willan to literally walk the ball into the net to complete a 2-0 win and end Liverpool's 2014 unbeaten run and dent their title hopes.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sterling Double Edges Out Norwich

After what has been an emotional week for Liverpool with the 25th Hillsborough memorial bringing the world of football together, the team buoyed by the memories of the 96 looking over them travelled to Norwich for an early kick-off on Easter Sunday.

Liverpool made two enforced changes from the win against Manchester City with Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva replacing the suspended Jordan Henderson and injured Daniel Sturridge while Steven Gerrard was selected for his 666th appearance placing him third in the all-time list with the legendary Ian Callaghan and former teammate Jamie Carragher ahead of him.

As has been traditional at home this season, Liverpool brought their blitzing style to an away game with the opening goal coming after only four minutes with the in-form Sterling stunning the crowd with a spectacular effort that sailed past Ruddy in the Norwich goal.

Ruddy prevented the visitors from going further ahead with a strong save from Allen after the midfielder had been found by Coutinho but was beaten second time around when Sterling carved an opening down the left and hit a pinpoint pass to Suarez which the Uruguayan side-footed for his 30th league goal of the season.

Norwich responded well with Skrtel producing a vital clearance from and dangerous cross while Mignolet denied a powerful effort from Redmond to ensure the 2-0 lead remained intact into half-time and after the interval, Norwich began brightly but it was Liverpool who were the most threatening as Sterling hit an effort over the cross bar after Suarez and Coutinho combined.

Norwich reduce the deficit after a dangerous cross troubled Mignolet who was out muscled by Johnson and the loose ball found Hooper who tapped into the empty net to the joy of the home fans. However their joy was short lived as Liverpool regained their two goal lead within minutes as Sterling gained possession and raced down the middle before tricking through the Norwich defence and clipping a shot at goal, the ball deflected off a defender and left Ruddy helpless as it looped over him into the net.

Norwich reduced the deficit when Snodgrass glanced the ball past Mignolet to set up a tight last 13 minutes and they could have been level when Van Wolfswinkel headed for goal but did so straight at Mignolet who kept his side's lead intact as they held on for the win, a victory that out them five points clear at the top and three wins from a first league title in 24 years.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Coutinho Seals Vital Win

This week lives in the memories of all Liverpool fans as we remember the 96 fans who went to an FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough and never came back, yesterday was an heart-warming way to remember them as an impeccably marked silence was accompanied by a special mosaic reading '96 - 25 years' as Manchester City visited.

An emotional afternoon began perfectly for Liverpool as Suarez split the City defence and found Sterling who defied his age and outfoxed Hart to tap into an open net to send the home fans euphoric and Sterling continued to pressure City as he turned creator for Sturridge but the effort went wide.

City responded as Toure hit a rasping drive over the bar but in the process seemed to hurt himself and had to go off dealing the visitors a blow while Garcia replaced him and found himself in the book less than a minute after coming on.

Sterling's pace was really causing City trouble and after a pass to Sturridge was cut out, Coutinho swept in a corner that Gerrard met spectacularly forcing Hart to tip the ball over the bar.Gerrard swept in the resulting corner to devastating effect as Skrtel evaded Kompany before glancing a header that sailed over Hart and into the net and Liverpool were in dreamland at 2-0.

Two could have been three just before half-time as Coutinho found himself in a good position but hit off target with Silva having a dangerous header deflected and chaos ensuing in the Liverpool box with both Sterling and Johnson clearing off the line. Mignolet kept the two-goal lead intact with a fine save from Fernandinho's strong volley and Pellegrini made a second change at the interval bringing Milner on for Navas.

City had their best chance to score when a dangerous cross went through the box from Milner and Silva tapped past Mignolet but the ball had gone out in the build-up, it was a warning that Liverpool didn't heed as a repeat cross from Milner minutes later found Silva and this time his effort did count.

Silva caused trouble for Liverpool again as he hit for goal only to see his shot deflect off Johnson and wrong-foot Mignolet to level the score, it is said that true champions are able to triumph after pressure and this was a real test of that.

The momentum was with City and Dzeko looked to complete the turnaround as he hit for goal after a mistake in the Liverpool defence but was denied by Mignolet and the pressure saw Aguero enter the fray as City looked to catch Liverpool on the break.

Anfield held its breath when Aguero passed Skrtel and raced forward with Silva against Sakho but luckily for the hosts, the Argentinian's pass evaded Silva in space at the back post. Liverpool came back and got a throw-in in a dangerous position, the ball came to Kompany and he hacked at the loose ball but it went straight to Coutinho who made no mistake in powering past Hart as Anfield erupted.

City pressured Liverpool and got a lifeline in the final minutes when Henderson was given a straight red but were unable to prevent a magical win for Liverpool that puts a potential first Premier League title in their hands to lose.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Gerrard Double Blunts Hammers

Liverpool travelled to West Ham looking to make it nine wins in a row and in doing so returning to the top of the league after Chelsea and Man City had overtaken the Reds on Saturday.

One change from the Tottenham match was the inclusion of Sakho in place of Agger in a first start of 2014 for the Frenchman. Liverpool started well as Suarez looked to take his tally to 30 goals with a free-kick from distance but the ball failed to dip enough to test Adrian.

Suarez had another brilliant chance midway through the half as he collected possession on the left edge and created space before hitting for goal but was denied by the upright and the sides remained level.

Henderson and Sturridge combined with the latter attempting a toe-poke from height but it sailed high and caused no trouble for Adrian while West Ham responded as Noble sent in a set-piece from a threatening position but with no crucial end product.
West Ham looked likely to end Liverpool's record of first half goals but when Suarez connected to a Gerrard pass on the edge of the area, The Uruguayan's cross struck the arm of Tomkins and the referee pointed to the spot. Gerrard converted past Adrian to force a re-write of the half-time team talks for both sides. 

However, that changed further when the ball was swept into the area and under pressure from Carroll, Mignolet spilled the ball and Demel tapped into an empty net. Liverpool were furious as it was clear the Belgian had been upended and a replay was even shown on the big screen but the referee allowed the goal after a discussion with the linesman to sour what had been a good first half.

Liverpool made a change by bringing Lucas on for Coutinho and he came close to an instant impact when he tried to find Suarez with a one-two and had another chance when he hit straight at Adrian as the sides stayed level.

Carroll looked to put his side ahead when he connected to a cross and hit a headed effort against the crossbar but it was the visitors who regained the lead just before the 70 minute mark as Lucas picked out Flanagan and the defender went down after a challenge from Adrian resulting in a penalty and Gerrard converted for a second time for his 10th of the season from the spot.

Liverpool held on and ensured a return to the top meaning their fate was in their own hand in the pursuit of a first Premier League title.