Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Five Star Reds Trounce Sorry Spurs

After a comfortable win over West Ham, Liverpool made the trip to White Hart Lane to face another London based side in the shape of Tottenham with the Reds hoping to end a five game losing streak at the Lane and in doing so propel themselves back into second spot.

There was only one change from the West Ham game which saw the inured Gerrard replaced by Lucas and as such it meant a first game as captain for Luis Suarez. The visitors could have taken the lead inside the first minute as stand-in captain Suarez attempted to pick out Coutinho but the Brazilian failed to connect properly and the shot proved that as he failed to score.

Liverpool continued to push for an opener as Suarez hit wide but within minutes he was the architect of the first goal as he was picked out by Sterling and attempted to set up Henderson who flicked back the one-two pass and saw the Uruguayan skip through the defence and tap the ball past Lloris.

Lloris was called on to deny Suarez three minutes later as the denied the attacker in a one-on-one and Suarez came close to an assist as he put Coutinho through on goal but saw the resulting shot cannon of the crossbar. Spurs had a chance but Chadli failed to test Mignolet with a header and the miss could have proved costly when Suarez latched on to a mistake from Lloris but with an open goal in sight he failed to shoot before the 'keeper had recovered and denied him a second goal.

Sterling spotted and found Coutinho who in turn found Henderson and he tested Lloris who could only clear into the path of Suarez who hit for goal and forced an acrobatic stop from the Frenchman who saw his work undone as Henderson collected the ball and volleyed home for a 2-0 lead.

Tottenham did have the ball in the net before half-time but it was chalked off as in the build-up, Mignolet made a mistake in the area an allowed Soldado to challenge him but the Spaniard looked to out muscle the Belgian who went to ground and Soldado hit the ball into the open net only to be stopped in his celebration by the referee declaring a foul.

 Sakho only had the post in his way as he came close to his second goal in the space of a week as he headed at the far post but saw his attempt rebound off the post with the resulting chance from Skrtel going over, Tottenham's push to get back into the game suffered a massive blow in the 62nd minute as Paulinho received a straight red card for a high foot on Suarez and that all but signalled that the Liverpool would avenge their previous visits to the Lane. 

They increased the lead with a surprise scorer as Henderson played a clever back heeled nutmeg to Suarez and he crossed to the back post where to the surprise of the Spurs defence the unmarked Flanagan swept home a superb volley for his first Liverpool goal and was the base for an amazing team celebration.

Seven minutes to go and up popped the mercurial Suarez once again as he lifted the ball over the onrushing Lloris for his second and Liverpool's fourth as the pressure on AVB began to grow.

 Liverpool had not finished yet and punished the frail Spurs defence once more as Suarez turned provider and picked out Sterling who hit home for the fifth and a rich reward for a brilliant performance and as the final whistle went, the visitors and their fans were jubilant in  handing Tottenham their worst defeat for 16 years.

As I write, the result proved to be the last straw for Tottenham as yesterday saw the sacking of Andre Villas Boas despite him having a 54% win percentage but it seems the reverse on Sunday coupled with the 6-0 demolition they were given by Man City last month left the board with no choice.

Personally, I felt sorry for AVB as it was plainly obvious that the selling of Bale and the influx of 100m of 'talent' was done out of his control and that chairman Levy chose to use the manager as a scapegoat for his failings so as I highlighted on Twitter, I would take great pleasure in seeing Spurs stutter this season in the league in order for Levy to see that it would be his fault and not the manager.

Meanwhile, Liverpool move on to host Cardiff on Saturday with the prospect of being top of the league at Christmas if Arsenal fail to beat Chelsea on Monday night and would do so for the first time since the title challenge in 2009 then derailed by the famous 'Rafa Rant'.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Own Goal Treble Sees Hammers Blunted

Liverpool hosted West Ham hoping for a second home win in the space of a week and made one change from the stunning Norwich win with Sahko replacing the ill Agger.

The game was preceded by a well respected minute of applause for the late Nelson Mandela which was very emotional and well observed. The home side began well with Suarez piling on early pressure but his clever chip went wide. 15 minutes gone and Mignolet set up a counter-attack by picking out Sterling who played in Henderson who shot wide.

Mignolet made an excellent save from Maiga from close range after Jarvis raced down the wing and swept in a cross and the winger had another threatening cross but it failed to find a team mate, Coutinho found Sterling but the England forward failed to hit the target. Liverpool took the lead withing minutes as Suarez hit the ball across the box and forced a save from Jaaskelainen but the ball bounced in off Demel to give the home side a half-time lead.

Liverpool went 2-0 up inside two minutes of the second half when Gerrard's free-kick found Sakho at the far post and the defender headed goalwards with Skrtel and Collins colliding to forced the ball over the line but the goal was given to the Frenchman to spare West Ham's blushes of a second own goal.

Gerrard raced goalwards in the 56th minute but worryingly pulled up as he attempted a shot and had to go off to be replaced by Lucas,West Ham got some luck of their own as Jarvis' header across goal was met by the unfortunate Skrtel who tapped into his own net to level the own goals tally but also give the Hammers hope of a comeback.

The hope was short-lived as Suarez connected to an exquisite cross from Johnson to head past Jaaskelainen for 3-1 and to continue his amazing scoring run but the West Ham mood dropped further as captain Kevin Nolan received a straight red card for a challenge on Henderson.
Liverpool took advantage of the extra man with Suarez weaving left and right skillfully on the edge of the area before shooting for goal but was denied a second goal by a deflection off the shoulder of O'Brien which fooled Jaaskelainen as the ball flew into the net for the third own goal for the afternoon.
The Reds held on to complete back-to-back victories at Anfield and due to other results going in their favour, they moved up to second place behind Arsenal with a tough trip to Spurs next Sunday.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Historic Four Star Suarez Smashes Canaries

After an embarrassing piece of history on Sunday which saw Hull record a first ever victory over an average Liverpool, Anfield played host to the visit of Norwich.

Luis Suarez has been a deep thorn in Norwich's side in past meetings with two hat-tricks against the Canaries and his inclusion in the starting eleven surely drew worries from the visiting fans who had the positive that SAS partner, Daniel Sturridge would not be in the team after last week's injury.

Rodgers brought in Coutinho, Allen and Agger in place of Moses, Lucas and Toure but could have found his side behind early on as Howson swept in a superb volley that went over with Coutinho responding by swaying past three Norwich defenders and hitting for goal only to be denied by Bassong.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Tigers Roar As SAS Disbanded

After Arsenal opened up a seven point gap at the top with a win over Cardiff, Liverpool knew a win away to Hull was a must but the heavy favourites got a massive surprise and instead of maintaining second spot they now sit fourth.

The day couldn't have started any worse with the pre-match news that not only would he not play against Hull but that Daniel Sturridge would not play again until 2014 after suffering an injury in training so Liverpool included Moses and Sterling to partner Suarez.

Hull started the better with the opening chance as Davies headed wide from a Bruce pass but this was a sign of things to come as minutes later Hull stunned the viewing masses by taking the lead, Moses attempted what can only be described as a miss-chip pass and lost the ball,Livermore hit for goal from distance and got lucky with a spectacular deflection from Sktrel which sailed past Mignolet.

Liverpool levelled the score via a free-kick as Henderson was brought down and Gerrard converted into the bottom corner of McGregor's net with 27 minutes played. Huddlestone had a chance to regain the lead for the home side but saw his shot rest in Mignolet's grasp with Suarez soon testing McGregor at the other end.

Seconds after the restart, Suarez blasted from a tight angle but McGregor was unfazed and took it well.Rodgers brought on Coutinho in place of Sterling and the Brazilian started well with a swooping cross picked out Moses but the Nigerian International could only find McGregor and it proved very costly as moments later, Hull regained their advantage as Meyler hit a shot across Mignolet and into the bottom corner as the visitors fans were silenced.

Suarez went achingly close with a free-kick as Liverpool pushed for an equaliser but it was Hull's day and that was conclusive when Liverpool were dealt another blow as Huddlestone hit for goal only for it to be drifting wide until a superb header from Skrtel flew into his own net to confirm an historic maiden win for Hull against Liverpool and dent Liverpool's hopes of ending the year in the top two with Spurs, Man City and Chelsea still to come before the New Year.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

SAS Combine In Merseyside Derby

After a packed international break, Liverpool's stars returned to league focus for the Merseyside derby away to Everton yesterday afternoon.

Rodgers made two changes from the last match with Allen and Flanagan coming in for Enrique and  Sturridge with the latter on the bench, Everton started the better of the two sides as McCarthy threatened to open the scoring after a drive from the middle.
Liverpool countered with style as in the fifth minute they took the lead as Gerrard swept in a corner that Suarez flicked for Coutinho to control past Howard from close range. The lead lasted barely minutes as Everton equalised in the eighth minute as Mirallas connected to a loose ball in the Liverpool area to hit past fellow Belgian, Mignolet to level the score.

Mignolet was called into action again within minutes as he had to react quickly to deny another fellow Belgian, this time Lukaku who had broke through the defensive line but was skillfully denied by the Liverpool 'keeper. Liverpool regained the lead in the 19th minute as Suarez coolly swept in a free-kick that sailed past Howard and stunned the home fans while delighting the travelling reds.

Everton looked to repeat their earlier comeback and Mignolet was required to push a Barkely attempt past the post with Mirallas looking to seal a brace from distance only to see it fly wide. Mirallas was lucky to remain on the pitch minutes later after a bad challenge on Suarez just after the half-hour with the result being a booking for the Belgian and a cut leg for the Uruguayan.

Liverpool were happy at the break as they went in 2-1 up but Everton looked to change that early in the second half as Deulofeu replaced Baines and the Spaniard found massive space by a pinpoint ball from Mirallas but the focused Mignolet stuck a foot out to prevent the danger.

Liverpool could have all but sealed the win just on the hour when Allen found himself in front of goal with an unmarked Suarez in his sights but strangely went for goal and missed the target to the disgust of his teammate.
Mignolet denied Everton again by blocking a chance from Lukaku as Moses replaced Allen to try and increase the lead for the visitors but the ongoing battle of the Belgian's saw the attackers capitalise as Lukaku hit a free-kick against his international teammate and followed up with an equaliser amid a goal-mouth scramble. 
Liverpool looked to lead for a third time as Gerrard gave Suarez a great chance to head past Howard but the American denied him with a reflex stop which soon saw Sturridge come off the bench to replace Lucas.
Mignolet made a double stop from Deulofeu as the Spaniard raced down the left and from a resulting corner, Lukaku hit his second goal by rising highest to head past Mignolet and send the home fans wild and surely win the game for Everton.
Recent years have seen a twist in the final seconds and this year was no different as Gerrard swept in a free-kick which the in-form Sturridge headed home to the delight of an ecstatic travelling crowd as he salvaged a point. 

But there was still time for Suarez to have one last chance as he tested Howard and Liverpool did have the ball in the net for a fourth time but sadly it was rules out for offside with the last action of the game coming from Mignolet as he denied Deulofeu for one final time.

So an exciting Merseyside derby as always but a shame that a draw became a fair result which could have been very different had Allen been a team player when he had the chance to square to Suarez but enough of ifs and buts as we still sit second and that is still a massive achievement.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Reds Trounce Cottagers

After a poor defeat at Arsenal, Liverpool bounced back in style with a resounding win over Fulham on Saturday afternoon.

Rodgers made a range of changes including a switch to four at the back in came Agger, Johnson and Coutinho while Enrique returned on the bench, Liverpool started well with Agger hitting over after latching on Skrtel's pass while Coutinho shot wide.

Coutinho picked out Gerrard who in turn found Suarez and he attempted to set up his strike partner Sturridge but was denied by Stekelenburg, Fulham countered through Berbatov as he swept over a cross to Kasami but the resulting shot was blocked.

Mignolet soon denied Berbatov who clipped a chance towards goal but it was in vain minutes later as
Liverpool opened the scoring, Gerrard swept in a free kick which was flicked on by Agger and Suarez but went in off Amorebieta to Fulham's embarassment.

The vistors' mood got worse within minutes as Liverpool converted from another set-piece after Gerrard hit a superb corner which met the head of Skrtel who celebrated his first goal in 11 months since scoring against Fulham last December.

Liverpool pushed on for more and Coutinho hit a brilliant volley which was destined for the top corner only for Steklenburg to deny him a comeback goal and he was denied for a second time when his drilled shot was saved by the 'keeper.

Suarez got his name on the scoreboard with 36 minutes played as he connected to a through pass by Henderson and finished with style past his former Ajax teammate to pile the pressure on former boss Martin Jol and give Gerrard praise for a sweet nutmegging of Berbatov which had set the play up for Henderson.

Liverpool looked to continue where they left off as the SAS combined only to be denied by Stekelenburg including a rebound which missed the target but the wait for a fourth goal only took until the 54th minute when Gerrard played in Suarez who hit his eighth league goal of what has been a short season for him and he could have hit a quick third with a lob from halfway but it failed to trouble the 'keeper.

Fulham had a great chance to pull one back via Kasami's long-range effort but Liverpool continued their assault with Allen and Moses in place of Gerrard and Sturridge and there was a late appeal for a penalty for a tackle on Henderson but Parker's challenge was impressive and the right call was made.

Liverpool held on for a first clean sheet in eight games and sit second in the table going into the international break.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Gunners Defeat Reds

Both sides went into the game with hopes of continuing heir good form an it was the table topping Arsenal that made the first chance with Rosicky testing Mignolet six minutes in after finding space and firing across goal with the Belgian palming the ball away and soon Henderson attempted a chance at the other end but miscued at the vital moment.

Arsenal opened the scoring in strange fashion as Cazorla connected to Sagna's cross and headed against the post but with the defence still, he collected the rebounded and hit home to break the deadlock.