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.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Four Star Reds Go Top

After mixed results for their title rivals on Saturday, Liverppol went into yesterday's home game against Tottenham knowing that they would go top of the table with a positive result.

 Only one change was made from the midweek win over Sunderland with Sterling returning to the attack with Allen moving to the bench. In what is becoming a tradition at Anfield, Liverpool raced out of the blocks with Johnson spearheading the attack down the right side before delivering into the area and in searching for Sturridge found Kaboul who hit into his own net to open the scoring.

Tottenham had lost 5-0 in the reverse meeting and hoped to quell a repeat after such a bad start and had a good chance to level when Eriksen sneaked through the defence but was denied by Flanagan who cleared.

Sturridge could have extended the lead had he been just a touch taller as a cross from Suarez came achingly close to finding his strike partner but the wait soon ended in record breaking style as Suarez collected the ball down the left before racing forward and gliding a superb finish past Lloris into the far corner for his 29th league goal, taking him above Robbie Fowler's record of 28.

Bentaleb tested Mignolet with a powerful effort and the Belgian also denied Soldado who hit a curler from the edge of the area but again it was Liverpool who had the best chance as Sterling found Suarez and the Uruguayan headed for goal only to be denied by a fine save from Lloris that hit the underside of the bar before being cleared by Bentaleb on the line.

Tottenham needed to score next to have any hope of avoiding defeat but it was a third for Liverpool that came next as Coutinho collected a spectacular overhead pass from Flanagan before advancing on goal and letting fly with a stunning shot that glided into the bottom corner past the diving Lloris.

It was game over for the visitors with 15 minutes to go as after Gerrard had gone off, Henderson took over the free-kick duties and did so with dramatic effect as he guided the set-piece through all of the onlookers in the area and past Lloris for a 4-0 lead.

Soldado had the chance for what would be some consolation but was denied by Flanagan who had been superb all afternoon and meant that Liverpool returned to the top of the pile for the first time in 2014 and kept their title hopes alive.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Fortress Anfield Sees Nervy Win

After three consecutive away games, Liverpool returned to Anfield with their title aspirations intact as they faced Sunderland in a the re-arranged game from a fortnight ago due to Sunderland's FA Cup campaign.

Liverpool retained the same line up from the win at Cardiff meaning Sterling was on the bench for a second successive game but as they have done in recent home games, Liverpool started well with Johnson and Coutinho both chancing from long range with their efforts sailing over the bar with Suarez drifting a free-kick over the bar.

Sturridge had a good effort go off target and was unfortunate not to latch on to a cross from striker partner Suarez as Liverpool dominated the possession with Allen having a go after combining with Suarez but Mannone collected comfortably.

Suarez ran towards the area looking to score himself and was felled by Sunderland defender Vergini who was booked as it was deemed that he was not the last man with Brown also in sight but Liverpool were awarded a dangerous free-kick that Gerrard curled over the wall superbly to put the hosts in front.

Sunderland responded and forced their former 'keeper Mignolet into action as Wickham's deflected shot led to a full stretch save from the Belgian who ensured his side went into the half-time interval in front.

Liverpool wasted no time in extending the lead as Henderson picked out Sturridge and he swerved an effort at goal that clipped Brown and sailed past Mannone for a 2-0 lead and the Englishman's 20th league goal of the season breaking a 50 year record since two Liverpool players scored 20 in the same season.

Sunderland came close to pulling one back in the 70th minute when Dossena's pass found Cattermole and the midfielder powered a volley at goal only to see it cannon off the crossbar and minutes later at the other end, Sturridge looked to replicate his goal but saw his effort hit the bar before bouncing to safety.

Sunderland did get a lifeline and piled pressure on Liverpool when Ki headed into a gaping net after connecting to an inswinging corner and it gave them the momentum as they searched for a leveller but thankfully for the hosts, it failed to come and Liverpool were able to celebrate a seventh successive win which saw them move back into second and just a point behind Chelsea. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Suarez Treble Wins Nine Goal Thriller

Fresh from two successive 3-0 away wins against Southampton and Man United, Liverpool were on their travels again as they visited Cardiff.

Liverpool made a single change from the win at Old Trafford with Coutinho replacing Sterling after they had swapped last week, Cardiff started the better with Theophile-Catherine hitting high over the bar after being found by Campbell.

It was a sign of things to come as minutes later, Cardiff took the lead as Campbell gained possession and picked out Mutch who slotted past a helpless Mignolet to the joy of the home fans. Liverpool were soon level as a nice passage of play enabled Henderson to make his way through the defence and find Johnson who swept a cross to Suarez who tapped past Marshall.

Cardiff went back in front when Campbell drifted inside and hit past Mignolet with pace to put the hosts 2-1 up and Liverpool's response came in the form of Coutinho but he hit wide from range and Suarez could only find the wall with a threatening free-kick with Sturridge testing Marshall when he clipped an effort towards goal, the chance deflected off a defender but found Marshall comfortably.

As halftime approached, Liverpool were level for a second time when a corner drifted in was cleared but right into the path of Coutinho who swept a superb cross into the danger area for Skrtel to tap past Marshall for 2-2.

The Cardiff stopper was on hand to prevent Liverpool leading at the break when he denied Suarez from close range, the result of a one-two with Johnson.Liverpool took the lead inside nine minutes of the second half as the combination of Coutinho and Skrtel paid off for a second time with the latter heading past Marshall from the Brazilian's corner.

The lead increased as the game reached an hour with Sturridge displaying a spectacular skill to set up Suarez for the Uruguayan's second strike, the No.15 slid a blind back-heel that found perfectly found Suarez who slotted past Marshall  to complete a truly stunning piece of play.

Cardiff's prowess from the first half seemed to have left them as Liverpool struck a fifth goal to surely end the hosts' hopes of a much needed win, Suarez and Sturridge combined with the latter getting a well deserved goal but the scoring spree continued as Cardiff claimed their third to close the gap as Mutch bagged his second.

The last say went to the man of the afternoon as Suarez raced clear of the defence and after a delay slotted past Marshall to complete his hat-trick and hit Liverpool's sixth for a 6-3 victory that keeps them in touch at the top of the league.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Reds Complete Double Over United

After a fortnight without a game due to the Sunderland game being cancelled due to their FA Cup tie, Liverpool resumed their league campaign with a trip to face fierce rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Liverpool made one change from the victory over Southampton as Sterling replaced Coutinho and it was the visitors who made the better start as Sturridge received a nice pass from Henderson but hit a powerful shot that went off target. Van Persie collected a pass from Fellaini who had swept a cross to the back post towards the Dutchman but the resulting attempt was blocked.

Joe Allen had a great chance just before the half-hour mark as Sturridge looked to combine with Suarez and the ball bounced into the path of the Welshman but he mistimed the shot and De Gea collected it with ease.

Liverpool went in front within minutes as Suarez looked to cross and saw the ball rebound off the hand of Rafael reuslting in referee Mark Clattenburg pointing to the spot, Gerrard stepped up and cooly slotted past the diving De Gea to the joy of the travelling fans as Liverpool gained the advantage.

United looked to reply and Gerrard was on hand to deflect Van Persie's chance out for a corner and Mignolet palmed away a strong shot from Rooney who was then denied by a well-timed challenge from Skrtel which meant the visitors led at the break.

United's hopes of levelling were dealt a blow just seconds after the interval as Jones knocked Allen over in the penalty area and for a second time Clattenburg pointed to the spot. Gerrard stepped up and tapped an accurate effort into the corner to double the advantage and United's top four hopes were slipping away.

Januzaj looked to threaten the Liverpool defence as he dashed down the right wing and into the area but his reward was only a corner and from the resulting set-piece, Vidic leapt to meet the ball but his effort went over the bar.  Rooney looked to pull one back but a melee in the Liverpool defence cleared the danger and Fellaini then hit over as time ticked on.

Rooney dribbled down the left and picked out fellow striker Van Persie in the middle but he glanced a header wide and Liverpool raced up the other end, Sturridge raced into the area and he went down after a challenge from Vidic who had been booked earlier on and as a result was dismissed. In doing so he extended his record to four dismissals against Liverpool in what is likely to be his last match against them before leaving United in the summer.

Gerrard stepped up looking to become the first player to score a hat-trick of penalties in the league but saw his effort cannon back of the post and the joy of a hat-trick would have to wait. Suarez looked to make it 3-0 when he connected to a pass over the top of the United defence but a superb volley was punched away by De Gea.

The Uruguayan got his reward for his efforts as Sturridge hit a shot that found the path of Suarez and he went on to slot past De Gea for his 25th league goal of the season that sent the away fans into hysterics and silenced the home fans who voiced their frustration at the final whistle as Liverpool celebrated a double over the defending champions while putting themselves firmly in the title race.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Reds End Poor St Mary's Record

Liverpool made the trip to the south coast to face a Southampton side with a good record against the Reds and the remaining team on Suarez's scoring checklist as Liverpool looked to move up to second in the table.

A solo change was made to the Swansea lineup with Allen replacing Sterling who dropped to the bench as Liverpool moved to four in midfield and early on the tactical switch put pressure on the hosts as Coutinho looked to setup Suarez with Lovren lucky to end the danger.

The hero of previous meeting was called into action again to thwart a cross from Henderson to Coutinho with defensive partner Fonte ending an exchange between the fabled 'SAS'. Lallana swept a cross to Rodriguez but Agger was on call to deny the attacker with a vital clearance. The Dane's block proved even more important when Suarez connected to a Johnson throw-in and moved well into the box with Sturridge close to finding him but a Saints block saw the ball ricochet to the Uruguayan who finished superbly past Boruc to break the deadlock. The strike saw him match the tally of Anfield legend Robbie Fowler by hitting his 62nd goal in a century of appearances.

Southampton responded and buzzing with confidence after his debut England call-up, Luke Shaw clipped a cross to Lambert but a mixed connection saw his effort go high above the goal, Lallana connected to Lambert's knockdown and saw his effort cannon off the post to the relief of the visitors.

Liverpool looked to go into the break 2-0 up with Sturridge and Suarez combining but the latter's effort failed to test Boruc. Southampton came out for the second half with a continuance of their attacking mood and Schneiderlin had a chance go over with Mignolet denying Rodriguez with a strong save.

The pressure from the hosts saw Rodgers make a change by bringing Sterling on for Coutinho meaning a return to the usual 4-3-3 and it paid off instantly as Gerrard picked out Suarez with the Uruguayan laying off to Sterling who tapped home at the back post only 80 seconds after coming on to the field.

Suarez turned creator again as he supplied strike partner Sturridge who looked to net for a ninth successive game but despite rounding Boruc, he was left with too narrow of an angle to hit the target, Southampton's pace began to stutter and Suarez again found his partner but Fonte intercepted and quelled the danger.

Fonte went from hero to villain as he pulled Suarez back and conceded a penalty which Gerrard converted to cap off a brilliant performance and propel his side to second in the table ahead of a fortnight's break ahead of the trip to Old Trafford.