Saturday, 8 November 2014

Chelsea Seal Anfield Win

Liverpool's run of three games in a week ended miserably with a 2-1 defeat at home to unbeaten Chelsea who as a result sit 15 points ahead of the Reds ahead of the international break with Brendan Rodgers making sweeping changes from the midweek loss in Madrid.

Emre Can retained his place and could have made an instant impact inside the first minute when a shot at goal took a wicked deflection before going over the bar, the early chance served as a warning which Chelsea failed to heed. The German midfielder tried his luck again in the ninth minute and again his chance drew a wicked deflection but when the ball cannoned off Gary Cahill it sailed past Thibault Courtois to the joy of the home crowd.

However, Liverpool's lead lasted just five minutes as a lapse in defence saw Gary Cahill equalise after Simon Mignolet saved a John Terry header from a corner, Cahill tapped in the rebound which Mignolet looked to have saved but the goal decision system showed he had done so behind the line and so the goal was given.

Liverpool looked to have regained the lead in the 19th minute when Philippe Coutinho found Mario Balotelli but despite firing past Courtois in the Chelsea goal, the strike was denied by an offside decision but the Brazilian had a chance of his own when a clever run and shot drew a diving save from Courtois.

Chelsea came close to taking the lead with two chances from Eden Hazard late in the half both drawing saves from Mignolet who ensured the sides would go into the interval on level terms, Diego Costa had a superb chance in the 51st minute when he connected to Eden Hazard's cross with an overhead kick travelling over the bar.

Raheem Sterling looked to put Liverpool ahead after a mazy run into the box saw him force a good save from Thibault Courtois and Chelsea countered with Eden Hazard whose shot was blocked by Steven Gerrard.

Chelsea did get lucky though in the 66th minute when Cesar Azplicueta swept a cross in and drew a parry from Simon Mignolet with the ball falling to Diego Costa who fired past the Belgian to give the league leaders a 2-1 lead. Liverpool made a double change with Fabio Borini and Joe Allen replacing goalscorer Emre Can and Phillipe Coutinho.

Jordan Henderson looked to draw Liverpool level with a close range shot after a nice run and cross from Joe Allen but the shot deflected wide of the target another change saw Rickie Lambert replace Mario Balotelli. Liverpool were unfortunate not to be awarded a late penalty when Steven Gerrard's shot looked to have hit the arm of Gary Cahill but referee Anthony Taylor signalled play on.

Chelsea held on and moved clear at the top while maintaining their unbeaten record while Liverpool remained in seventh ahead of the three o'clock games.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Benzema Strike Downs Reds

Ahead of a tough clash against Premier League table toppers Chelsea, Liverpool travelled to face a Real Madrid side who bested them 3-0 in the reverse meeting.

Despite some criticism in the build-up to the match, Brendan Rodgers named a mixed strength side with Fabio Borini, Lazar Markovic, Emre Can and Lucas Leiva all included which resulted in a strong substitutes bench containing Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson.

It was no surprise that Madrid made the better start as James Rodriguez forced Simon Mignolet into a clawing save after a shot from ten yards away from goal before Cristiano Ronaldo aimed a chance towards the top corner but Mignolet was on form again to deny the Real striker with a superb stop.

However, the Belgian was powerless to prevent Real from opening the scoring in the 27th minute as a sweeping cross from Marcelo out on the left found Karim Benzema at the back post with the Frenchman finishing first time into the roof of the Liverpool net.

Real's confidence grew and Cristiano Ronaldo tried his luck from 30 yards out with a free-kick which was punched clear by Simon Mignolet before Marcelo began a move which saw him combine with Karim Benzema with the former volleying towards goal only to be denied by a stop from Mignolet.

Liverpool looked to respond early in the second half and created a move with Alberto Moreno finding Adam Lallana in space allowing the England midfielder to hit a snap-shot at goal which despite going wide, prompted a rise in atmosphere from the travelling Kopites.

Real bounced back and came close to scoring a second when a neat combination between Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema saw the former advance on goal but a superb block from Kolo Toure ended the move. Brendan Rodgers looked to change the game with a double change with Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling replacing Lucas Leiva and Lazar Markovic.

However, Real also boosted their attack with the introduction of Gareth Bale and the Welshman came close to a second strike for Real when he connected to Marcelo's pass but his effort rebounded back off the cross bar. Liverpool pushed to equalise and seal a draw but the illusive goal eluded them and meant Real secured a place in the knockout stages while Liverpool need to win both remaining games to have a chance of advancing.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Supersub Perez Downs Reds

After sealing a last-gasp win over Swansea in the Capital One Cup in midweek, Liverpool faced Newcastle in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off which saw a superbly observed minutes silence for Remembrance Day.

The Magpies made the better start of the two sides with Papiss Cisse claiming the first chance in the fourth minute when his shot at goal was deflected over by the Liverpool defence and from there the game seemed to quieten down until around the 28th minute mark.

Mehdi Abeid looked to test Simon Mignolet from a free kick in the 28th minute but was denied by the defence before his second attempt from a set piece came ten minutes before half time with the effort being deflected wide with Sammy Ameobi blazing over from the resulting corner.

Liverpool breathed a collective sigh of relief in the 37th minute when Glen Johnson headed off his own line after Papiss Cisse had connected superbly from a corner and the Reds responded well and could have gone into the interval ahead.

Steven Gerrard swept in a corner which found the head of Martin Skrtel who arrowed the ball towards goal only to see his effort sail past the post, Newcastle looked to start the second half as they had the first with Papiss Cisse looking to test Simon Mignolet but could only shoot over from a free-kick.

Mario Balotelli looked to threaten the deadlock with a free-kick of his won but saw his effort saved well by Tim Krul who was called into action again in the 57th minute when a powerful header from Phillipe Coutinho drew a tipping save from the Dutch stopper.

However, Newcastle mounted a superb attack in the 73rd minute and opened the scoring when Paul Dummett found the path of Ayoze Perez who hit past Simon Mignolet for his second league goal in the space of a week to put the Magpies ahead.

Liverpool could have fell further behind when a defensive error on the halfway line saw Remy Cabella break free and after a one-two with Ayoze Perez, he looked to test Simon Mignolet with the Belgian 'keeper saving superbly with his right leg.

Newcastle seemed the likeliest to score and they came close again when Moussa Sissoko swept in a dangerous cross which was strong enough to draw a save from Simon Mignolet but Liverpool's attacking frailties meant they slipped to a fourth league defeat of the season.