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Bayern Munich Archives - Gerrard The RedGerrard The Red

Posts Tagged: "Bayern Munich"

Match Preview: Manchester City vs Liverpool (26.12.13)

- - Match Preview

Manchester City CrestLiverpool Crest

It’s time for one of the traditional football delights – the Boxing Day match… Full of Christmas turkey, it’s the time of year to gather around and watch the game – the halfway point of the season – it’s a good time to really start judging your team’s chances for the season. And it’s been a perfect Christmas for Liverpool; a perfect 2013 really, with even Gary Neville recognising Brendan Rodgers as the manager of the year…. We are top of the league, our star player has just put pen to paper on a lucrative contract extension and we have one of the highest league points total in many a year. It hasn’t been a season without flaws and we have dropped vital points and performed badly in a few matches: the Hull City, Southampton and Arsenal games spring to mind… But overall we have been doing very well. Our defence could still plug up a little, but the goals are fast-flowing and our attack, tactics and passing have looked better than they have done in a long time. We have possibly the best striker in world football and despite a couple of key injuries our squad is looking strong and performing well, and more importantly playing together as one. We are a force to be reckoned with and our preseason goal of a top four finish is well on the cards, with a chance now of actually lifting our first ever Premiership League trophy. Managerial changes in other top clubs means that an opportunity like this season may not present itself again. The time is ripe.

Our Boxing Day fixture this year is a mouthwatering fixture that has been creeping up over the past month. Away at the Etihad to Manchester City. Brendan Rodgers says that the title in Manchester City’s to lose. We are top of the league, but the top five are separated by only two points. It is very congested. Manchester City lie third, only a point behind us. The fixture looks particularly prominent as it is a meeting of the two top scoring Premiership sides. Goals have been free-flowing from both teams this year and Manchester City are the only side to have bagged more goals than us – 51 – 9 more than our 42. They have a perfect home record with 8 wins from 8, with a massive 35 goal tally at the City of Manchester stadium. Liverpool are the biggest scorers away from home and top individual goalscorer, Luis Suarez, has already broken the history of the Premiership’s monthly goalscoring record with ten goals in December so far. The firepower should be evenly matched as City’s leading scorer, Sergio Aguero, is out injured until January. We are missing Daniel Sturridge though have been coping well without him, with other players stepping up in the side to contribute to goals.

I think the weakness for both sides in is defence. Both Manuel Pellegrini and Brendan Rodgers have both been tinkering a lot with their defences this season and both have been a little too leaky for title challengers. Hopefully, our problems in the centre have been resolved with consistency being achieved in the last three games, Martin Skrtel being joined by Mamadou Sakho. Today will be their biggest test of the year perhaps? It looks as though Daniel Agger could be off to Napoli on loan in January… Let’s hope that we are extra secure at the back today…

Liverpool come into the fixture off the back of four straight high-scoring wins, though City are no slouches, having has some good dominant victories over Arsenal and Bayern Munich. They also put six past Tottenham. We were dominated by Arsenal and made to look ordinary in our defeat to them. Manchester City completely destroyed them a couple of weeks ago and I suppose, are responsible for us finding ourselves top of the league at Christmas.

Rodgers was present at the Etihad when Bayern Munich beat City in the Champions League so knows full well how they are not infallible at home. He saw the European Champions use a holding midfielder to edge out the 4-4-2 City set-up. Manchester City have been steadily improving all year though.

Last season we had two draws against Manchester City though outperformed them on both occasions. We are a side whose tactics strike fear into the ‘new Chelsea’. City will be there or thereabouts in the top four at the end of the season so it is crucial that we make gains on the head-to-head fixtures. Yes, Aguero is out, but equally, our captain, Steven Gerrard, is a critical injury blow for us. We cannot be overdependent on Luis and the other players around him will all have to bond well and deliver top performances if we are to get points here today. To be fair they have done surprisingly well recently though today is certainly a step up in class.

City’s defence is under the cosh injury-wise with Matija Nastasic, Pablo Zabaleta and Micah Richards all out for the fixture. Our youngster, Jon Flanagan picked up a knock against Cardiff and might not make it, which could be a concern as Jose Enrique is also still out. We could possibly see Martin Kelly getting a recall.

The tables are set and this will certainly be a Christmas treat for both sets of supporters, if only to truly assess our teams’ potential. I hope Luis has a nice bit of Turkey and is feeling fresh as he is unplayable at the moment, whatever the calibre of opponent. I’d like to think he’ll bag a hat-trick, and it would really top off the Reds’ festivities. We’ve been spoilt this Christmas though, and maybe a wake up call is lurking in the mist?

The match kicks off at 1730 and will be shown live on BT Sport.

The Return of El Pistolero: Luis Suarez

- - LFC News, Players

Luis Suarez

The ten match ban which has dragged on since last season is finally over. Our star striker, El Pistolero, will be back available for selection this week for our critical clash with Manchester United in the fourth round of the League Cup. After the dismal results in the league for the past two games, hopefully Suarez will be very welcome back at his club. Will the fans support him as vociferously as they have done since he signed from Ajax in January 2011? I for one found the summer particularly frustrating. I love Suarez and especially the goals he scores for us. He is the club’s star player and was unlucky not to have outshined Gareth Bale in all the major player awards last season. Big players do attract interest from other top clubs and Suarez is no different. I can remember how distraught I was when the Gerrard deal to Chelsea was almost done and dusted. This summer brought back those terrible memories. OK, Steven Gerrard finally had a flash of common sense and decided to stay at his boyhood club and the supporters rallied even further behind our iconic club captain. But, will the case be the same for Luis Suarez?

At first, I dismissed the early summer transfer talk as pure speculation, but then it slowly started to emerge that the rumours were rooted in truth. Suarez used the press he claimed he hated so much to try to engineer his dream move to Real Madrid. Here we have a player claiming how he wants to leave England because of the press hounding he gets and then in almost the same breath, he uses the very same press to express his discontent at Liverpool. OK, he had a point on several issues. We didn’t qualify for the Champions League yet again, not even the mediocrity of the Europa League can indeed be promised this season. Our league finish was very poor and we finished a country mile away from our targets. A trophyless season leaves both players and fans disappointed. But, stick with the program, Luis. You are our talisman, our lead goalscorer. At Anfield you have the total support of the best fans in the world. Can the likes of Arsenal offer the vibrant crowd action that the Kop generates? Not even Madrid have the dedicated support of Liverpool. As the summer wore on, the player I initially supported became a burden to me. He hardly left the trending Tweets section of Twitter. Every day a new story broke. Would his agent, the brother of new Bayern Munich boss, Pep Guardiola, favour a nepotic deal to the new European Champions? Would the giants at the Bernabeu flash their cash? What about Chelsea? And then there was the Arsenal saga… The irony of a move to another English club, having stated how uncomfortable his family are with british press intrusion was not lost on the fans. Suarez, as talented as he may be, is not the most sensible of characters. Politically he is very inastute. He seems driven by emotion and off the pitch he must be a nightmare to handle, perhaps more so than when he’s fleecing defenders on it. The Latin American flair raises up and he seems to speak without thinking. There was talk of promises from Brendan Rodgers and he obviously misunderstood the exact conditions of his contract. I didn’t like the way details were being leaked out to Arsene Wenger, telling him exactly how much he needed to bid so that the Gunner skinflints could get an absolute bargain. In the end I gave up hope in keeping Suarez, like the majority of supporters. I got fed up. We had a few decent possible targets in the sights and the transfer window was still wide open. We could take the cash and splash it out on maybe 2 or 3 quality replacements, one of which would surely come good. As the window dragged on and on, the dire situation slowly began to reverse. John Henry and Brendan Rodgers made strong statements that clarified that Luis Suarez was going nowhere. He would be a Liverpool player for the foreseeable future. Ultimately Real Madrid broke the world transfer record in signing Bale and there was no further room at the Bernabeu, for this year at least. Arsenal were laughed off as their approach totally warranted. And preseaon came and with Suarez back in training,, he manged to fit in a few preseason games and the global supporters turned out in their droves to pay homage.

When the window finally closed for the summer, I breathed a sigh of relief. We could keep Liverpool Lu for at least one more season. Perhaps if we don’t qualify for the CL again this year, he will get his wishes and be shipped out. But with the amazing start we’ve had (at least for the first four games), the top four looks a very realistic target. Suarez will return to a confident side and will line up next to an absolutely firing strike partner in Daniel Sturridge. Indeed healthy competition between the two could produce one of the greatest strike partnerships at Liverpool since our heydays in the Eighties. I couldn’t pick at present who the club’s top goalscorer will be this season. Sturridge has settled well and is on top form. he doesn’t carry the same pricetag as Luis, nor indeed all the emotional baggage.

I think he will emerge from the stalls like a hungry wolf and devour defenders with ferocity )no pun intended). He has served two length bans now during his time as a Liverpool player. Whereas on the first occasion I was totally supportive and disagreed entirely with the technicalities of the Evra racism row, his second ban was stupid and he was at fault. As a football superstar he is an ambassador for the game as a whole and more importantly for Liverpool Football Club. With a Liverbird upon your chest and an audience of millions, players have responsibilities to live up to their status as role models. What will children watching the game feel when they see Suarez sinking his teeth into a defender. It is not a good image for Luis himself nor the club. Hopefully during his time out and what must have been a traumatic soul-searching summer for him, he has had the chance to mature a little and get over some of this rashness which envelopes him periodically. He is a fiery character and to extinguish even the tiniest flame from his soul might render him fruitless in front of goal. I don’t want him to change on the pitch. He is a clear and present danger. But his behaviour off it needs to be looked at.

I think he’ll be scoring straight away and hopefully he can lead us to an early season double over our arch rivals at Old Trafford on Wednesday. It would be a dream and a challenge for him to become the Premiership’s top goalscorer. He can guide us to that top four finish he so craves and let’s hope and pray next season we get to see him lead the line at Anfield on some memorable European Cup nights. If he does live up to expectations we will see a changed side up front, with much heavier firepower. The fans I think will forgive him totally for his close season misdemeanors. Welcome back, Luis. Keep your chin up and boots laced up tight. We are on a journey this season and you have a key role to play.