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Match Report: Manchester City vs Liverpool (26.12.13) L 2-1

- - Match Report

vincent kompany

For Liverpool, the lineup was forced into making one change from its successful one in recent matches. Jon Flanagan didn’t make his fitness test and the talented young left back was replaced by Aly Cissokho.

The game was lively from the start, to and fro, both teams looked set out to play a good open game of football. Jesus Navas hit the post with a header after five minutes. The Manchester City defence looked very disciplined and our early attack moves were thwarted as rigorous pressing, good tackling and a very wide formation stopped us in our tracks. Other teams have not forced us to use the whole width of the pitch and have left room to manoeuvre for our wingers down the sides. City stretched us to the max. I thought Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho looked the main danger men. Luis Suarez was being held on a tight leash by the strict Vincent Kompahy, who commands the Man City defence.

After 19 minutes Sterling latched on to a Luis Suarez through ball. Behind the defence he did well in his one-on-one with Joe Hart but unfortunately the linesman flagged him offside so the goal was disallowed. At twenty-five minutes Sterling and Coutinho combined, the Brazilian hitting the ball into an empty net after Hart was rounded by Sterling. One-nil and Liverpool haven’t lost a game when they’ve scored first this season and only one of those games has ended in a draw.

The lead only lasted five minutes. Vincent Kompany totally outmuscled Martin Skrtel as he rose to head a corner past Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal. Joe Allen failed to clear from the goal-line emergency defensive position. Philippe Coutinho almost scored a fantastic response in perhaps our finest move all season. Sterling, Suarez and Coutinho all worked well together and intelligently threaded it through the City centre only for the on-form Joe Hart to deny.

On the stroke of half-time Alvaro Negredo gave the home side the lead. Aly Cissokho was out of position and our centre halves were nowhere to be seen. Negredo broke through and with a fairly weak shot, caused Mignolet to make a rare mistake and fumble the ball into the net. Not the best of times to start making unforced errors. Perhaps our luck has run its course? It’s been end to end for the first half and the game could still go either way> Luis Suarez needs to find a way to escape from Kompany’s pocket.

Manuel Pellegrini had obviously been doing his homework on our Uruguayan marksman. Luis Suarez was being closely controlled, which allowed the other Liverpool players a bit more freedom. Our best move early second half saw Jordan Henderson almost latch onto a lovely deep through-ball. Suarez assisted in getting the rebound into Henderson in a goal-line clamour, but Henderson was given offside. Our attacks now have the finesse of a decent Arsene Wenger side – high quality and well-orchestrated total football.

We were dominating possession, having 70% of it early second half. The game was end to end, but no clear chances were developing. We almost had another nightmare in defence, this time Mignolet coming to the rescue as Mamadou Sakho made a shady pass back which was almost intercepted. Glen Johnson became the first player in the ref’s book. Brendan Rodgers made the first use of his bench with a surprise change: Philippe Coutinho making way for Victor Moses, who we haven’t seen in action for a while. I though Coutinho had been more effective than usual today.

Our persistent possession started to pay. We had three clear cut opportunities in the City box. Glen Johnson, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling all going very close. Sterling’s chance was a real gilt-edged chance and he should have really scored it. Luis Suarez seemed to be getting muscled out away from the central areas and was cropping up down the sides. Pellegrini turned to his bench to try and turn the tide a little. James Milner came on for Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko was brought on for Alvaro Negredo. With ten minutes left, Brendan Rodgers sacrificed Luca Leiva for Iago Aspas.

The referee Lee Mason seemed to be making some erratic decisions which were costly for Liverpool. He failed to award several free kicks and Luis Suarez had two good penalty appeals shunned away. He did manage to put Pablo Zabaleta in the book and Luis Suarez also entered it for a high challenge on Joe Hart.

The last ten minutes drifted away with us getting no closer to bridging the divide. At the final whistle the score stood at 2-1. Yes, a disappointment, especially in a game where we dominated possession. We should have done better with our chances, though there were far fewer of them today. Manchester City dealt with Luis Suarez very effectively, keeping him silenced for the first time in ages. Their winning goal was ultimately lucky and perhaps they didn’t deserve victory but a victory to the Sky Blues it was and their title challenge looks a strong one. Our bench lacked the depth of their much stronger CL squad. It could be a telling factor later on in the season. We still have a home game to come against this side and three points at Anfield will not be beyond us. We drop off top spot. A few sour cranberries perhaps to dullen our Christmas party. It’s a Blue Moon on Boxing Day. Let’s get back on the road against Chelsea next…

Man Of The Match: Vincent Kompany – The Manchester City marshalled a well-run defence, dealing with Luis well and also scored a vital goal. The difference between the two teams and a quality player.

Match Preview: Hull City vs Liverpool (01.12.13)

- - Match Preview

Hull City CrestLiverpool Crest

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool travel to the KC Stadium for an away fixture that at first glance looks a nice comfortable three-pointer after the challenges posed to us at Goodison in the derby last weekend. In sixteen games against Liverpool, Hull City are winless, though two of the four premiership fixtures between the sides have ended in draws. The big headlines for Liverpool is that the SAS is a man down. We haven’t the largest of squads and the element that has had most success so far this season has come undone with Daniel Sturridge picking up a sprained ankle in Friday’s training. Our attack will be spearheaded by Luis alone this week, though with the kind support of Coutinho and Gerrard, maybe this will be enough to see off the challenge from 13th place Hull. Hull City, since promotion, have had a fair amount of success, with this relatively high league position. Their defence has been particularly solid at home though Liverpool are the first major side to face them on their own soil. They are on a losing streak at present, however, and have lost 4 of their last 5 fixtures. The main problem facing Hull, is that despite playing good football from box to box, their strikers have lacked goals. They have the third poorest goalscoring tally in the league at 9, which is what both Luis and Sturridge each have scored independently. Our defence has performed well, though not so much on our travels. Jon Flanagan played a confident role in the derby and is likely to keep his place at left back, though with much of Hull’s forward momentum going through their Egyptian right winger, Elmohamedy, Flanagan could be in for an awkward day. The other main danger for the home side is their playmaker, former Spurs man Tom Huddlestone. He will be fired up to face the England captain Steven Gerrard and he is the most active of Hull’s passers. The Hull defence faces injury difficulties as they lost Paul McShane to a hamstring injury in their defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend.

Perhaps, Brendan Rodgers will be spoilt for choice in his selection for central defence, but the gap in attack should prove more troublesome. Could we see a return of the out of favour Iago Aspas? It looks as though Sturridge could be absent for a while and with some critical Christmas fixtures just around the corner we need to really ensure the effectiveness of our strikeforce. Another selection issue could be whether or not Joe Allen fits into midfield, allowing the captain to get forward more. Rodgers’ main man, the former Swansea star is not flavour of the month with Reds’ fans, especially after his horrific miss in the derby. The Sturridge dilemma should have us all puzzling for the bossman’s solution. Opposition manager, Steve Bruce, perhaps has the more awkward job, in plugging one of the most prolific scoring teams with a side which has little in the way of attack itself. He will need to set up his formation with a view to keeping the home fans happy, but with also safety in mind. Hull have tried their more traditionally favoured wing back defence as well as a four man defence. I suppose it depends on how Liverpool decide to set up that will determine Bruce’s final decision.

Arsenal have already played this weekend and their resounding three points away to Cardiff have left them with an impressive seven point lead. We’re still second in the top four though things are getting mightily congested in the Champions League spots. Other top sides are also playing on Sunday and we have no excuse to drop points here at the KC. Liverpool will be expected to win and let’s hope that all goes to plan.

The match kicks off at 2.05pm and will be televised live on Sky Sports.

Match Preview: Liverpool vs Crystal Palace (05.10.13)

- - Match Preview

Liverpool CrestCrystal Palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last time out at Anfield, Liverpool gave a disappointing performance and slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Southampton.We turned the corner in out mini-crisis, however, and beat Sunderland away last week, to take up second place in the league. Here, we return to a home fixture against minnow opposition. Crystal Palace are languishing in the drop-zone already, just above Sunderland in 19th place, with one win and five losses. When you look ahead to fixtures, it’s the eye-catching ones which excite supporters. The matches against the top four sides, the Merseyside derby, the Man United games. These games, for Liverpool, generally cause few problems. We always step it up for the big occasions and usually succeed in bagging all the points on offer. Nowadays, I see the likes of Crystal Palace at home in the fixture list, and whereas, looking at the league standings, it should be an easy three points, for Liverpool, we always seem to struggle against the hackers that fight it out at the bottom of the division. I think that with Liverpool being such a huge club historically, sides like Palace, who are not as accustomed to Premiership ways, really try to perform and shine in front of our passionate football loving supporters. Games in the atmosphere of Anfield bring out the best in the opposition. It is like stepping out at Wembley for them. They bring their A-game, and also their mainly physical styles don’t suit us very well. We like beautiful football, passing and movement. When you are facing rough aerial challenges and hoofed long-balls from the back for ninety minutes, it takes its toll on the players, and slips in defence are more likely to occur.

Injuries and suspensions mean that Liverpool will be flexing their squad for the game. Lucas Leiva is a critical non-starter, on a one-match ban for accumulation of yellow cards. It seems a little early in the season for this to happen, and our Brazilian starlet should perhaps pay more attention to his discipline when he returns. Lucas’ natural replacement, Joe Allen, is still out injured with his hamstring. Obviously, Coutinho and Johnson, are still in recovery and Cissokho also misses out. Sebastien Coates has picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury on international duty so is another long term absentee. Rodgers is likely to turn to Jordan Henderson as cover for Lucas. Although he’s been out on the right all season, he can easily drop into the middle and we will most probably see him dovetailing back and for in the centre with captain, Steven Gerrard. It will be Suarez’s first opportunity, after his ban, to greet the Anfield faithful, so we can expect him to be shining. Sturridge has scored 5 of our 8 league goals this season and he is most definitely the form player. What happens defensively is perhaps more of a mystery. There has been tinkering in the past few games, and in my opinion we haven’t looked too comfortable. There are players missing, but is a 3-5-2 the right formation for a home game? Are three central defenders too many? I think a 4-4-2 will let us more loose. I’d like to see some of the younger players fit in at the back. Flanagan, Kelly? I know Toure has experience but is he really quick enough to cover the right back role? Surely we should have a natural player in that position?

Yannick Bolasie makes a welcome comeback for Palace, the exciting winger, having been absent since preseason with a hamstring injury. There is a bit of a crisis in defence with Patrick McCarthy, Damien Delaney and Jonathan Parr all doubtful for the game.

Ian Holloway, as a manager, will be relishing the opportunity to play Liverpool. In previous seasons, he has brought Blackpool here and, completely outplaying us, has stolen away the precious three points. That did happen under the fateful Roy Hodgson era, so maybe with the more stability we have under Brendan Rodgers, will simply make us too strong for Palace. I think that our new attacking S.A.S. will be just too much for the Palace defenders to contain. It’s three points on offer and although they won’t be presented on a plate, we should really get them and for 24 hours at least, resume our rightful position at the top of the Premiership.

The game kicks off at 3pm and is not being televised live in the UK. I’d recommend http://wiziwig.tv or Sports Lemon for the live internet streaming.

Match Report: Liverpool vs Southampton (21.09.13) L 0-1

- - Match Report

Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool started the game with four centre halves. Agger and Skrtel in the middle and Sakho and Toure as left back and right back. Enrique was declared injured but still remained on the substitute bench. The 4 centre halves made us look a bit week on the flanks, with Sakho certainly having a shaky start. We won a free kick early on, in a good position, with Gerrard really pushing Southampton keeper, Boruc, into a good save. Victor Moses looked sharp, though maybe a little bit lightweight. Iago Aspas filled in in Coutinho’s usual position. Perhaps the biggest talking point of the first half was when Sturridge was clearly fouled as he moved into the right side of the box, Anfield Road end. He was brought down and appealed to the referee but no decision was given. Liverpool had 6 shots compared witH Southampton’s 4.. Liverpool dominated possession, having 56.4% of the ball, making it a first half in their favour. Half time 0-0 and Liverpool should maybe feel aggrieved that they haven’t broken the deadline.

The second half started with Southampton putting Liverpool under a lot more pressure. Defender Dejan Lovren connected to a cross in the box and despite Gerrard’s best goal-line efforts, a goal was conceded. Enrique was brought off the bench as Agger made way, perhaps an attempt to cure our weak looking defence situation. Gerrard was unlucky again from a decently positioned free kick on the edge of the Saints’ box. Southampton continued to look like they had five more players on the pitch than the Reds. Luke Shaw moved persuasively into the box and force Mignolet into a spectacular triple save, the Saints denied a two goal lead.

It was hoped that Luis Alberto would help out as we chased the game and he came on for Skrtel, with Rodgers tinkering with the defence even more. Henderson seemed to move back to right back. Gerrard wasn’t really leading by example today, making several costly mistakes in possession by trying over-complicated balls that were misplaced. When Gerrard doesn’t play well, it affects the team as a whole. The match dragged on to full time as a 1-0 defeat. We never really looked like threatening and our passes were everywhere. All in all a poor performance.

I think that tactically we got today’s game all wrong, maybe the international break has disrupted our pattern or the players have got complacent after their awesome start to the campaign. The lack of full backs in the starting lineup today proved costly. If Enrique was fit enough to come on as sub he should have really started. Our early season injuries have affected us. We’ve had a great start to the league but it’s come undone today. Southampton have cemented themselves now as a premiership team after their promotion a few years ago. They can be seen as a force to be reckoned with and must be thrilled with their result at Anfield. It’s only the second defeat at home for us in the calendar year. We thought Anfield was once again a fortress but it fell apart at the foundations today. On the plus side. Suarez’s ban is now served and he’ll be back next game to revitalise us.

Man Of The Match: Simon Mignolet – Although not perfect, his spectacular triple save made the score less embarrassing and was the highlight of a weak Liverpool perfomance.

Match Preview: Liverpool vs Southampton (21.09.13)

- - Match Preview

Liverpool_FCSouthhampton_FC

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool vs Southampton, 21st September 2013

Liverpool return to Anfield for a 3pm Saturday fixture, that, on paper, looks a lot more winnable than last time out’s draw away at Swansea. However, The Saints have proved a stumbling block to the Redmen in recent years, with Southampton winning four out of the last six clashes between us, though most of those points won have been at their own ground. Last season the corresponding fixture finished in a 1-0 Liverpool victory. Southampton, though, at St Mary’s, were the last premiership side to inflict defeat upon Liverpool after they totally outplayed us there and won 3-1.

Southampton are currently 11th in the league with 5 points out of a possible twelve, having won one, lost one and drawn two. To be fair it’s a relatively good start. They finished 14th in the Premiership last season so they are performing above average at present. Liverpool are, of course, perched back where they belong, at the top of the league with ten points, 3 wins and one draw. Both teams have only conceded 2 goals so a low-scoring match today looks likely as both have mean defences.

Daniel Sturridge will look forward today to adding to his goals tally and if he does score it will be the fifth consecutive Premiership game in which he has done so. Daniel Agger will be back ready for selection after missing last Monday’s fixture against Swansea with a side strain. Whether Sakho, Toure or Skrtel will fill in in central defence next to him will be a tricky decision for Brendan Rodgers to make. Our key star winger, Philippe Coutinho, is out for several weeks with his shoulder injury, so it looks likely that either new boy Iago Aspas or Raheem Sterling will be called up for duties to replace him. This will be the last match left for Luis Suarez’s ban so he will be back ready for selection as of the next game. The Saints have left back Danny Fox missing due to injury.

It will probably be a fairly tight game, though with Liverpool’s good start to the season and Sturridge’s blinding form, I predict a victory and thee points to extend Liverpool’s early dominance at the top of the league.

The match kicks off at 3pm and isn’t being televised live in the UK so you’ll have to get it streaming on the net. I can recommend trying http://wiziwig.tv  or http://sportlemon.tv for your streams. YNWA

Match Report: Swansea City vs Liverpool (16.09.13) D 2-2

- - Match Report

Jonjo Shelvey

Well, it was an explosive start to the game with Shelvey proving how keen he was to show the Reds they had made a mistake in selling him during the summer transfer window. Shelvey scored in the first minute with a well-taken goal which left Liverpool newcomer, Sakho, in the shade, his premiership baptism not going particularly well. Shelvey, however, was no saviour for Swansea, as only minutes later he inadvertedly gave an easy back pass to Daniel Sturridge, whose on fire goalscoring record allowed him to suitably capitalise on his former teammate’s mistake. It was 1-1. The first half was pretty evenly balanced in terms of possession, with good passing from both teams and end-to-end action. Mignolet made a noticeable save, Skrtel made a critical last ditch goal-line tackle, and Sturridge was unlucky not to score after a perfect Victor Moses cross. Another debutant, Victor Moses was showing his strength down the wing, and he cropped up to score a beautiful goal just before half time. Liverpool went into the interval a goal to the good with the score standing at 2-1.

The second half lacked some of the vigour of the first. Coutinho picked up a nasty shoulder injury and was substituted for Iago Aspas. A key player missing no doubt for a while. Shelvey continued his keenness to prove his worth to his new club and was rewarded by setting up the very dangerous Michu, who banged in Swansea’s second goal, making it 2-2. Liverpool threatened the goal far less in the second half and it was frustrating not being able to round off a fourth consecutive victory. Mignolet has a good game overall and made some decent contributions in keeping the Swans out, but he’ll be disappointed to have lost his 100% record of clean sheets. The final whistle came after a good five minutes of injury time and a draw and one point was all that Liverpool could take. Still, Swansea isn’t the easiest of places to go in the Premiership and get a result. We aren’t going to march through the season winning every game. We have to be satisfied with the away point. It places us back at the top of the league, after four games, a point separating us from Arsenal and Tottenham. A home game against Southampton on Saturday could prove a lot easier than tonight’s fixture.

Gerrard The Red’s Man Of The Match: Jonjo Shelvey – although he was involved in both Liverpool goals through mistakes, he also had key roles in the Swansea City strikes, scoring one and setting Michu up for the equaliser. Proved how good he is as a player and left a sour taste in the mouths of Liverpool supporters.