Monday, 5 November 2012

Liverpool v Newcastle

After a disappointing exit from the Capital One Cup to Swansea, Liverpool regrouped and looked to register only a fourth home win in 2012 at home to Newcastle.

The starting 11 was a carbon copy from the Merseyside Derby but hopefully a best result than a draw.

Liverpool came out of the blocks quickly with Anita fouling Sterling which led to Gerrard testing Krul's reflexes with the Dutchman passing the test.

Sterling combined with Sahin to cross into the box but the Newcastle defence cleared the threat which drew Alan Pardew to change his original plan for the game.

Both sides had further chances with Suarez curling wide from a free-kick before Newcastle tested Brad Jones from long range.

Suarez was in action again as he beat Steven Taylor to a header similar to his previous two goals but this time round the chance went wide.

Suso danced his way past the Newcastle defenders but his shot was cleared via a deflection which soon proved to be costly as two minutes before the break as Yohan Cabaye volleyed into the top corner right in front of a stunned Kop end.

Half time arrived and Liverpool wondered how after dominating they had gone into the break behind to a goal against the run of play.

Liverpool had to banish a record from 11 months ago against Newcastle in which they came from behind to win and a few openings early in the half showed that the record could be in the way out.

Sahin went close which led to a Newcastle breakaway which thankfully was quashed by Skrtel with a well timed challenge.

Liverpool's breakthrough came in the 67th minute as Enrique propelled a ball over his former team mates to pick out Suarez who went on a solo run past his marker and fooling Krul to finish into an empty net.

It was nearly a complete turnaround as Suarez carved open the defence to setup Shelvey who slipped while attempting a shot and Sterling soon had a glorious chance but hesitated and allowed Taylor to block his eventual shot.

Newcastle had a blow in the 84th minute as Coloccini received his marching orders with a straight red after grazing his studs down Suarez's leg but the extra man didn't allow Liverpool to change the scoreline and Shelvey's chances near the end saw an easy save for Krul and a tense tap onto the bar from the keeper.

So another draw and with two massive games this coming week a win would have boosted confidence ahead of the trips to Anzhi and Chelsea.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Liverpool v Swansea (League Cup)

After Sunday's draw in the Merseyside Derby with Everton, Liverpool moved on to continuing the defence of the League Cup or Capital One Cup as it is now known with a home tie against Rodgers' former team Swansea City.

Surprisingly, Rodgers put out an eleven that no one would have predicted with Joe Cole and Samed Yesil surprise starters and Sterling, Suso, Gerrard and Suarez all on the bench.

Liverpool started well and created the first opening on nine minutes as Yesil advanced towards the goal only to be denied by a well-timed slide by Ashley Williams who was soon involved at the other end with his cross setting up Nathan Dyer before Dyer could strike Jones gathered the ball.

Swansea piled the pressure on through Ki-Sung Yeung with a 20-yard chance which saw Jones scrambling to keep it out. In the 25th minute, Hernandez and Michu carved open the home defence and a trademark last-ditch tackle from stalwart Jamie Carragher prevented the shot which would have been right at the goal.

The Swansea threat meant Liverpool had to improve and improve they did as Downing's grass trimmer of a shot from range saw Tremmel in the Swansea goal turn it past the post. Liverpool were nearly undone as Jonathan De Guzman blew a beauty of a chance after attempting a lob over the onrushing Brad Jones but only found the roof of the net after a well structured counter attack.

The deadlock was broken in the 34th minute but unfortunately for the Anfield faithful it was the away side that opened the scoring as Jones pushed Yeung's shot out for a corner, the resulting corner found the head of Chico Flores, who had bested the home defence and powered a header into the corner and silence the home fans.

Liverpool came close to an instant levelling but Cole failed to connect with a header from Assiadi's setup and Tremmel gathered easily and Swansea lead 1-0 into the half time interval.

Just like on Sunday, Rodgers made a double substitution at the break with talisman's Suarez and Gerrard entering the fray for the departing Yesil and Cole.

Liverpool powered for an equaliser as Shelvey evaded two challenges before hitting his shot over the bar and he then put in Suarez with a scintillaitng cross but Suarez's header was off target.

In the 64th minute, Liverpool went even closer as Gerrard's screamer from range pinged off the base of the post to fall for Downing but the winger could not convert and Liverpool were still behind leading to the entry of Sterling for Assaidi.

Fortune shone on Liverpool though as Swansea pushed for a second as a goalmouth scramble ensued and Carragher and Jones combined skills to kept the Swans out. Liverpool pushed again and in a cramped area Shelvey, Suarez, Carragher and Coates all fell short of scoring the leveller.

This proved to be a costly as Swansea broke forward on the counter and Hernandez flew in a cross which was tapped in by the inbound Dyer to put Swansea 2-0 up and leave Liverpool needing an Arsenal-esque comeback to keep their cup hopes realistic.

The comeback began with a sumptuous header from Luis Suarez from a stylish Gerrard free-kick with 13 minutes left of the tie. However the comeback hopes were dashed in the final minutes as Swansea sealed victory and a 5th round passage with the carving of the defence which left Jonathan De Guzman with an easy tap in.

Gutting for the home fans that the defence of the trophy only lasted two rounds but some encouragement from the youth getting some more experience on the big stage and as I write this evening, Liverpool's exit is not the only major upset as Man Utd and Tottenham have also bowed out with away losses to Chelsea (5-4 AET) and Norwich (2-1).

Liverpool now must try to forget the defeat and move on to what some believe is a massive game on Sunday at home to Newcastle. The famous 4-3's of old will always linger in the memory but more recently we have seen a 5-0 Liverpool win and Pardew's first game in charge of the Magpies saw him swoop past Liverpool 3-1. The last encounter saw a Reds win by 3-1 last season. Personally, I see the main focuses being on Ba and Suarez as both have hit top form in the scoring charts this season.

Ah well, on to Sunday and hopefully a win to propel us into the top half of the table.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Everton v Liverpool

The 219th Merseyside Derby and for a change, Everton were listed as favourites with being six points and ten places about their city rivals Liverpool.

Liverpool kept with the youth and experience trait in the domestic games and Brad Jones kept his place in goal with Reina on the bench.

Everton started well and only a block by Agger stopped the home side from leading in the 9th minute and the resulting corner was flapped away by Jones.

In the 14th minute, Liverpool pushed forward and after Enrique's cross, Suarez's hit was deflected in by Baines for an own goal and Suarez's celebration was a theatrical dive right in front of Moyes in the Everton dugout in response to Moyes' comments the previous day.

Leon Osman fouled Sterling and from the free kick in the 20th minute Suarez headed in after a great delivery from Gerrard and Liverpool were 2-0 up.

The response came instantly as Fellaini's shot deflected wide for a corner and as the ball came in, Jones cleared it but only to Osman on the edge of the area who swooped home on the half volley to put Everton back in the game.

Sterling received a booking for a late challenge on Distin in the 28th minute and nearly recieved a second booking within minutes but only received a talking to from referee Andre Marriner.

Everton's comeback was completed in the 34th minute with Steven Naismith's first goal for the club after being setup by Fellaini to beat the Liverpool defence from a few yards out, 2-2 and still over 60 minutes left.

Jjust on half time, Everton captain Phil Neville received a booking for diving which was ironic given the Suarez criticisms.

Just after the break, Sterling had a golden chance but missed rather than setting up an unmarked Suarez,

In the 70th minute, Suarez received a booking for fouling Distin to cheers from the home crowd and Henderson tried to put Gerrard in but his shot was blocked by Jagielka.

In the final minute of added time, Liverpool were awarded a free kick on he edge of the area ans the cross saw Suarez tap in only to have it wiped off for an offside decision despite replays showing it was the wrong decision as Suarez was clearly onside and the last attack saw Suarez cut through only to be denied by Howard.

A draw that should have been a Liverpool win as even David Moyes agreed the goal should have been awarded. Liverpool now move on to the Capital One Cup tie against Brendan Rodgers former side Swansea City on Wednesday.  Liverpool FC Eau de Sport Aftershave 100ml Splash (Google Affiliate Ad)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Liverpool v Anzhi Makhachkala

A busy few days for Liverpool began with the hosting of Russian league leaders Anzhi Makhachkala before Sunday's Merseyside derby against Everton.

Rodgers went for experience over youth which would hopefully see success rather than the failure against Udinese.

Anzhi are well known because of the might of their team with Samuel Eto'o, Christopher Samba and Yuri Zhirkov all famous faces over here.

Liverpool looked hungrier from the start as in the opening 10 minutes, Suarez had nutmegged two Anzhi defenders before sliding through to cross but sadly over hit it before latching on to Assaidi's cross only to hit his shot directly at Vladimir Gabulov in the Anzhi goal.

Glen Johnson tested Gabulov on 21 minutes with a well taken shot from inside the area and Suarez setup Shelvey with an easy chance but Shelvey shot first time and saw the shot fly into the stand.

The build up to the game saw a big focus on  Eto'o but in the first half he was kept quiet and surprisingly by 19-year-old Andre Wisdom who worked like he was a veteran of the game like his attacker.

Anzhi ended the half with a chance from Feodor Smolov with an ambitious 35-yard shot which flew wide and that was that for the half.

Half-time brought a change for Liverpool, as Raheem Sterling replaced Johnson, and Downing dropped to full-back. Skrtel had a chance to open the scoring but Gabulov despite spilling the ball kept the scores level.

The deadlock was broken in the 53rd minute as Stewart Downing danced in from the left to unleash a stunning shot from 25 yards which flew into the corner of the net and caused Anfield to erupt.

His goal was his second in the competition after another stunner against FC Gomel and also has three assists, a far stretch from the man who last season was the critics' whipping boy.

Anzhi would have levelled in the 70th minute but were denied by Brad Jones as Eto'o tested him but from too close a range to trouble him.

Joe Allen came on for Shelvey for the final 10 minutes as Anzhi continued to push for an equaliser but Agger thought he had sealed the game after heading the ball out of Gabulov's hands to then volley home only to be booked for his effort as the header was an illegal offence (as of 1990).

The whistle went and Liverpool had secured a deserved victory, a win made even sweeter by the news that Udinese had lost 3-1 in Bern to Young Boys which meant Liverpool went from 3rd to top of the group and brimming with confidence ahead of the visit to neighbours Everton at the weekend.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Liverpool v Reading

After what seems like a long International break, Liverpool played host to Reading looking for their first home win at Anfield this season.

As is the trend this season, youth and experience filled the lineup with Suso and Sterling in the 11 with Suarez and Gerrard and a change in goal with Brad Jones coming in for the injured Reina.

Liverpool went on the attack early with Nuri Sahin breaking through in the 15th minute to unleash a dipping shot and Sterling curled a shot from 20 yards out but neither troubled McCarthy in the away goal.

Suarez and Gerrard combined to send Sterling down the left wing but he lacked a decision and the ball went for a goal kick but minutes later, Suarez created an opening but looped a shot over the crossbar.

Reading had to restructure midway through the first half with Jem Karacan having to come off after a 50/50 with Gerrard which ended badly for him and Gareth McCleary came on in his place.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Liverpool v Stoke

After defeat in the Europa League on Thursday to Udinese, Liverpool looked to bounce back at home to Stoke, a team that in recent years has had a good run when Liverpool came to them but this time its them looking to turn a record around with not winning at Anfield since 1959.

Youth again featured in the lineup with Suso and Andre Wisdom starting and Crouch and Adam returned to face their former club.

After 4 minutes, Suarez tumbled and complained of a kick from Huth but to no avail. Minutes later, Sahin's mistake nearly let Stoke in for an opening goal but the pressure was contained.

Both sides pushed for an opener and another Liverpool mistake in the 20th minute nearly let Stoke in this time Reina was at fault but kept out Kightly's chance.

Gerrard forced a great stop form Begovic on 27 minutes and Liverpool had another chance via Agger who stretched for a tap in which creeped wide of the post.

Sterling put Suarez in to set up Gerrard seven minutes later but Gerrard missed the target.

Halftime came and both were still level at 0-0, Johnson struck for goal and forced a save from Begovic and soon after came close with a chip which went over.

On the hour mark, Suarez broke and tried find the top corner but it slipped wide of the goal and a run from Agger setup Sterling but he took a first time shot and hit the post.

74 minutes gone and still 0-0 and Suarez tumbled in the box and many saw it as a dive as his fall and the tackle were seconds apart. He had a chance to shush the critics near the end but couldn't beat Begovic.

In the last minute, Gerrard's free kick was sprayed across goal by Skrtel but Suarez couldn't tap it in and that was it. Liverpool still await a first league win of the season at Anfield and now have a break due to the international schedule and face Reading in their next game on Oct 20th.

Other results from the weekend

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Liverpool v Udinese

Back to the Europa League and Liverpool looked to make it two wins from two and keep up an unbeaten home European record which stretched back to 2009 vs Fiorentina.

Rodgers continued his trend of mixing youth and experience and Liverpool came close to a great start after only eight minutes as Assaidi threatened with a quick dart into the box, Shelvey shot from range and Coates failed to direct a header past Brkic.

Both sides pushed for an opening goal and Udinese had a chance in the 14th minute as Benatia troubled Reina with a header which the home keeper duly saved.

Shelvey's start to the season has been mixed with good scoring performances and the sending off against Manchester United but on 23 minutes, it was the positive side that appeared as he opened the scoring from a nice move which featured his fellow U21 teammates. Henderson fed Shelvey who then fed Downing and Downing surged into the box and supplied the cross for Shelvey to head home.

Liverpool from there dominated possession for the rest of the half and at half time went in happy with the lead. However as they began the second half, Udinese struck level within 30 seconds as sub Lazzari crossed for Di Natale who timed his run to perfection to slot the ball past Reina from 12 yards.

 Both sides pushed to create a lead and Liverpool looked to be pushing further with 25 minutes to go as the cavalry in Suarez and Gerrard entered the fray in place of Assaidi and Henderson.

A controversial incident came when Downing outpaced his marker with a darting run down the left only to be hauled down by Pinzi who received a booking though on replaying the foul, a red card would not have been a harsh decision. From the resulting set-piece, Suarez shot goal wards only to be denied by his own player in Shelvey who strangely cleared it off the line.

Liverpool's luck began to slip as their plan fell to pieces in two shocking minutes as an Udinese free kick looked to be going straight to Reina but was headed in by the unfortunate Coates on 70 minutes and was swiftly followed by an easy goal for Pasquale from range and left Anfield in stunned silence.

A lifeline did come in the 75th minute as Suarez looped in an exquisite free kick to put Liverpool one goal away from levelling from 25 yards out. He also had chances to level, first with a close range header and then with a near post save by Brkic.

Liverpool increased the pressure but Sterling saw his shot from 12 yards ricochet over and mean that the 100% start to the group stage was now over and Udinese had secured a vital win over Liverpool.

The group progress had been made a bit harder with Anzhi also winning with Liverpool still to travel to Russia and Italy which are tough to got to and win in most cases but will be harder with the added pressure of sitting third in the group.

Next up is Stoke, in which Liverpool will be hoping to secure a first home win of the season in the league and secure a back to back win coupled with the Norwich triumph.

Other Results on matchday two