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Posts Tagged: "luis suarez"

Match Preview: Arsenal vs Liverpool (02.11.13)

- - Match Preview

Arsenal FCLiverpool Crest

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, this is the big clash. Ever since the fixtures list was published I’d been eyeing up today’s date as one to watch. Arsenal are a very testing side, one of the most consistently best sides in the Premiership and an away fixture against them is always a challenge. I think our current form and good league position has been helped by a kind fixture schedule so far. Today’s clash will be a big challenge, probably the first time all season we have faced a team residing ahead of us in the league. For all our good cheer, Arsenal have been grinding away and have been top for the past month, with few really acknowledging their almost flawless campaign. For all the criticism of their summer transfer market policy and action, Arsene Wenger’s side are actually having their best run in years. A stable side can often outwit a team full of changes and Arsenal are no slouches. Since the departure of Ferguson, Wenger takes over as the most experienced league manager. He is as cunning as a fox and tactically few can match his astuteness. Brendan Rodgers will face a true battle today and should we overcome Arsenal, then maybe talk of us winning the league can be actually taken seriously.

The timing of the fixture is actually quite good for Liverpool. Arsenal were defeated at the hands of Chelsea midweek in the Carling Cup, and at the Emirates. OK, it was a second string side, but a defeat is a defeat and it will have hurt morale. Liverpool have skipped through their dip in form and last week against West Brom was, perhaps, our best performance all season, with the resurgent Luis Suarez really standing out. Of course, the transfer market controversy will be on the tip of everyone’ tongue and Luis today will be under the spotlight. Hopefully he will prove his true value to us today and be keen to demonstrate to his suitors that they really did miss out on a legend.

The Gunners did make one key signing and German attacker Mesut Osil has been proving himself to be deadly, although perhaps with fewer headlines than our notorious SAS. Both sides will be welcoming back key players. Mikel Arteta, the former Evertonian will be back to boss their midfield after a suspension, and we all know how anyone linked to our derby rivals likes to up their game when they face Liverpool. For Liverpool, the much lauded Philippe Coutinho will be back available. Will Rodgers throw our Brazilian star back into the mix from the start or maybe he will have to have some impact from the bench? Aly Cissokho will continue deputising for the injured left back Jose Enrique, and the game could be a big challenge for the premiership newcomer, who has looked a bit shaky in adjusting. Theo Walcott could prove troublesome down that side. Last time out against Arsenal him and Oliver Giroud scored two early goals in a game where we luckily salvaged a 2-2 draw. Arsenal, however, won the two games prior to that against us.

The fixture is likely to be exciting, with both sides playing open, passing football. It is the clash of the early titans and the pressure is on for both sides. For, Arsenal it heralds the start of a mini-run of key games against us, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United. They will be hoping not to slip up. Equally, everyone is suggesting it is the true test of Liverpool’s ability to infiltrate the top four. We had a good home result against Manchester United in the league, but to take 3 away points today would be a genuine achievement.

I think that Suarez and Sturridge will be the key to our ultimate victory though the defence will have to be extra cautious. The new defensive system is far from fallible and today it will come under a lot of heavy pressure. Let’s hope all our players can step up and that we can start to prove our true pedigree for title contention.

The game kicks off at 5.30pm and will be televised on Sky Sports 1.

 

Match Report: Liverpool vs West Brom (26.10.13) W 4-1

- - Match Report

Luis Suarez

Liverpool began the match with their favoured three central defenders, Daniel Agger still not being able to force his way back into first XI. The game began with a fast tempo with Liverpool passing the ball around well. Suarez was pressurising the West Brom defence right from the outset and after having a few shots go wide, fell under a challenge as he headed into the box, but it was a weak appeal for a penalty and the referee correctly refused to award it. A couple of minutes later though (in the 12th) and heading into the right side of the penalty area, he nutmegged the defender and beautifully slotted the ball past WBA keeper, Myhill. A great start for Liverpool and Luis Suarez managed to break his goalscoring duck against Albion.

Liverpool kept up the tempo and territorial pressure on the beleaguered away side and it only took another five minutes before yet again our star Uruguayan was converting. This time, Aly Cissokho delivered a great cross to the edge of the box where Suarez plunged a fantastic powerful header into the top corner.  2-0 Liverpool.

With 25 minutes gone, a beautifully crafted free kick, from a good position on the edge of the area, culminated in Martin Skrtel slicing the ball from a good goal-scoring position. There was an injury concern when Glen Johnson went down awkwardly while making a recovery tackle against Anichebe. West Brom just couldn’t seem to get into the game and Liverpool were truly dominant. Jordan Henderson almost increased the lead to three with a narrowly missing curling shot just clearing the post.

Just before half time and a long through ball for Nicolas Anelka saw him skip past Martin Skrtel and Simon Mignolet. Having beaten the last line of defence, he passed the ball towards the open goal but luckily for Liverpool, the persistent on-from defender, Skrtel, managed to get back and clear the ball from the line. It was the only real danger of what was an excellent first half for the home team.

The second half got underway and immediately Daniel Sturridge won a decently positioned free kick and went close to scoring with a strong, curling shot, which just skipped wide. Baggies defender, Claudio Yacob, managed to stop another Liverpool attack but went into the book for his efforts and left a free kick to the Redmen. Steven Gerrard delivered perfectly to a virtually unmarked Luis Suarez, who, with his second headed goal, made his hat-trick. Liverpool three goals to the good and well on target to winning the match.

With victory seemingly in the bag, Brendan Rodgers made a precautionary change, replacing Glen Johnson with Martin Kelly. Johnson did take a knock in the first half and it made sense to give him a rest, especially with a big game looming against Arsenal next weekend.

West Brom managed to get a bit of a change in luck when Billy Jones clashed with Luca Leiva in the box. He went down and the referee awarded rather a weak penalty after the linesman flagged. I think it was a poor decision and after James Morrison scored the penalty, this decision could be costly for Liverpool. There is still daylight and hopefully all will be well at 90 minutes.

Steve Clarke seized the opportunity to take advantage of his resurgent team and made two changes for West Brom, bringing on Chris Brunt for Claudio Yacob and Shane Long for Liverpool old boy, Nicolas Anelka. West Brom continued to apply pressure for a good fifteen minute spell. They certainly weren’t going down without a fight.

Our SAS weren’t going to stay quiet, however, and the relatively silent Daniel Sturridge, moving towards the box, did a delightful chip which proved that Suarez isn’t the only star striker we have. It was perhaps the best goal of the game so far and Luis’ goals were certainly all very good.

Suarez soon went close to getting his fourth with a stunning overhead attempt which bounced back off the crossbar. Moving into the final ten minutes and the atmosphere on the Kop was resounding, all enjoying themselves and what must be our best performance so far this season.

A substitution was made by Liverpool with Joe Allen replacing the club captain. Steven Gerrard had a good game with some very good set pieces. In forward areas he was devastating and Lucas’ return made the midfield tick over really nicely. Lucas performed fantastically, sweeping anything up at the back. The final substitution allowed hat-trick hero Luis Suarez get the full plaudits of the crowd he had so vigorously entertained. Luis Alberto came on for the last few minutes.

The fifty year anniversary of our club anthem was sung heartily and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ reverbed through our glorious stadium. The only grey out there today was the weather and Liverpool have showed clearly how far they have progressed since last season. A team who did the double over them last year have been comprehensively beaten. We now go onto the Emirates next week on good form and perhaps we shall really be able to test whether we are true contenders for the title. Liverpool 4-1 West Brom. Our best game so far in this good campaign.

Man Of The Match: Luis Suarez – who can question our Uruguayan hitman’s hat-trick. Truly back on goalscoring form, an awesome display.

Match Preview: Liverpool vs West Brom (26.10.13)

- - Match Preview

Liverpool CrestWest Bromwich Albion

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool welcome West Brom to Anfield in this non-televised 3pm fixture. Liverpool are currently third in the league with West Brom standing at twelfth. League form, however, can be overlooked. West Brom are a bogey side of Liverpool’s, having won 4 of our previous five league fixtures, including a comfortable double over us last season. Although West Brom haven’t won in over a month, they have been impressive against the top sides, beating Man United in their own back yard and also holding Arsenal to a 1-1 draw. Their manager, former no 2 to Kenny Dalgleish at Liverpool, Steve Clarke, will certainly not be afraid of Liverpool, and is likely to have good knowledge of our side.

For Liverpool, Lucas Leiva should likely make a return to midfield, having been absent for baby duty last weekend. Glen Johnson should be match fit by now and with Jose Enrique still out with a knock, Aly Cissokho looks set to play left-back. Philippe Coutinho still hasn’t commenced full contact training though should hopefully be back for next weekend’s fixture against Arsenal.

Winger, Scott Sinclair, will be missing for West Brom. Ben Foster, Zoltan Gera and George Thorne are also likely to sit out with injuries.

The big question for Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, is whether to stick with his 3 central defenders. We haven’t yet held a clean sheet using these tactics. I think that a 3-5-2 formation is perhaps a bit too negative, especially for a home game. Also, is it time for Daniel Agger to start again? Martin Skrtel’s form has been holding our vice-captain out of the side. Is it time for Toure or Sakho to make way for the Dane?

Luis Suarez will be hungry as he is yet to score in five games against West Brom. Hopefully his SAS partner, a man with 20 Liverpool goals in 26 appearances, Daniel Sturridge, will also be keen to bag some more goals for his leading tally.

I think that Liverpool will be apprehensive about this fixture and maybe will be a bit too over-cautious. They has a bad game against Newcastle last week and need to bounce back. Hopefully our home crowd will be supportive and provide the impetus for us to get the three points which the bookies are predicting. Never in our club’s history have we lost three consecutive home games to West Brom. Let’s hope that this afternoon we can end this bogey team’s run against us.

I’d recommend checking http://wiziwig.tv for live match streams.

Match Report: Newcastle United vs Liverpool (19.10.13) D 2-2

- - Match Report

Gerrard & SuarezLiverpool started the game in their favoured 3-5-2 formation, with natural wing backs in Aly Cissokho and Glen Johnson bot making reappearances. Sakho, Toure and Skrtel form the central defence 3. Lucas Leiva stayed at home with his wife and their new-born daughter. Jordan Henderson joined Steven Gerrard in the middle of the park with Victor Moses lining up behind the formidable SAS.

The game started with good flowing football from both sides. Glen Johnson looked comfortable back in his right back role and made some lovely passes, most notably a cracking cross pitch ball to the opposite wing. Liverpool were having the most of territory in the first twenty minutes, but somehow their passing just didn’t seem to be hitting the mark. Then, all of a sudden, Newcastle broke through midfield, and from thirty yards out, Yohan Cabaye let loose with a powerful, swerving shot which Simon Mignolet let pass him. The keeper really should have stopped a shot from such a distance. It was totally against the run of play, but leaves Liverpool on the back foot, one-nil down

Newcastle followed up their goal with some sustained pressure and a few corners left Liverpool’s defence being tested. Liverpool were still on top in terms of possession and even after Gerrard delivered their eighth corner, they still couldn’t find the goal. Back at the other end, Newcastle who were primarily counter-attacking, Mignolet redeemed himself slightly, with a great stop from a powerful shot from Newcastle’s Moussa Cissokho. Apart from the goal it was definitely the best chance of the game so far. Liverpool got back to attacking and Luis Suarez made a good attempt. A couple of minutes later, Luis Suarez, again in the box, was brought down with a professional foul by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. The defender was given an instant red card and hesitatingly made his way off the pitch. Meanwhile, skipper Steven Gerrard, stepped up to the spot to easily score the penalty kick, his one hundredth league goal. The game had turned yet again upon its head and Newcastle, down to ten men, must surely be under pressure for the rest of the match.

Just ahead of halftime and Newcastle decided to change their formation slightly with a defensive substitution, Paul Dummett on for Moussa Sissoko. Steven Gerrard managed to pick himself up a caution. Half time, and rather a messy 45 minutes in terms of football has left Liverpool looking set up to dominate the game for the second period.

Early on in the second half and Gerrard was lucky not to get a second card, with the St James’ Crowd doing their best to convince referee Andre Mariner to dismiss him. Again, against the run of play, Newcastle retook the lead. A floating free kick was slammed into the back of the net by Paul Dummet latching onto it in the far right of the six yard area. He breezed into the area and left Aly Cissokho staring into space. Cissokho hadn’t looked good all game and the goal can really be put down to a defensive error.

Brendan Rodgers decided to up the ante and make an attacking change, bringing on Luis Alberto for Mamadou Sakho. Again, Liverpool moved into the final quarter of the game, dominating possession and territory. Luis Suarez again went close, though overall Liverpool were struggling to find form in the final third. They looked a bit lacklustre in terms of their effort, with slack passing and casually giving the ball away. The match, however, in the 72nd minute, turned again in Liverpool’s favour, the SAS coming to the rescue, Daniel Sturridge easily heading in a nice ball into six yard box from his strike partner, Luis Suarez.

A few minutes later and a beautiful passage of play from Liverpool, Gerrard sliding a ball dangerously into the box for Cissokho to cross into Suarez’s path for him to unleash a spectacular volley which skimmed the top of the bar. Liverpool so unlucky not to be in front for the first time in the game. Another Liverpool attack failed to pierce the goal, as the ball was pinged about in the box, with nobody able to convert. Newcastle made a substitution with their star player Cabaye making way for Vurnon Anita and Hatem Ben Arfa leaving the pitch for Sammy Ameobi to come on. Liverpool responded, bringing Raheem Sterling on for Glen Johnson. Hopefully the youthful attacker would be able to bring us the victory.

Liverpool were just unable to get the critical goal. Even a last minute Suarez from the edge of the box was thwarted. As is often the case when a team goes down to ten men, it spurs them on to deliver a stronger performance. Liverpool should really have taken their chances, but will have to make do with an away draw and one point. The game finished 2-2.

Man Of The Match: Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, Luis Suarez was directly involved in both Liverpool goals and overall had a very decent game.

Match Report: Liverpool vs Crystal Palace (05.10.13) W 3-1

- - Match Report

Daniel Sturridge

It began  a good day for Liverpool as it saw Kenny Dalgleish return to a position in the directors’ box at Anfield. Liverpool started the game in their recent favoured 3-5-2 formation, Martin Skrtel joined by Sakho and Toure in the centre of defence. The missing Lucas was replaced by Jordan Henderson in the centre of midfield and Raheem Sterling took his place on the right hand side. Liverpool started the game very positively, immediately seizing control of possession and putting the struggling Crystal Palace on the back foot. It wasn’t long before we broke the deadlock. After thirteen minutes, Suarez, fallen off his feet in the box, latched onto Jose Enrique’s ball and slipped it into the net. To complete the devastating force of our SAS, Daniel Sturridge soon afterwards made it two with a cracking left foot strike into the bottom corner. Crystal Palace responded well to the early pressure and for the next ten minutes made Liverpool defend. We looked a bit shaky at the back and it required a spectacular save from Simon Mignolet to secure our clean sheet, denying a good attempt from Puncheon. In the thirty-sixth minute, Raheem Sterling, heading into the Anfield Road end penalty area, fell after a minor touch from Moxey. Penalty awarded and the captain, Steven Gerrard, stepped up to fool the keeper into diving the wrong way. Before halftime Victor Moses was thwarted by the crossbar. It was 3-0 and liverpool’s relentless attack had sealed a comfortable position ahead of the second half.

Crystal Palace dug in, second half, and made life a bit more difficult for the Redmen, who to be fair had probably taken their foot off the gas a little. The game moved back and forth with a fairly even allocation of possession and territory. Daniel Agger came on for Mamadou Sakho and Victor Moses made way for Luis Alberto. Raheem Sterling was having a good game down the wing and was causing all sorts of problems out on the right. In the seventy-sixth minute Gayle, for Crystal Palace headed a cross into the box, past the Liverpool keeper. It was initially reported as a Gerrard own goal, such was the confusion. Liverpool’s attack kept breaking down with misplaced passes. Daniel Sturridge hit a cracking volley which spun back off the inside of the post, so unlucky not to make it a brace. He was substituted afterwards for Iago Aspas, his work for the day well done. After four minutes of extra time, the ref drew the game to a close. It was a solid performance with a  3-1 victory, sending Liverpool back to the top of the league. We made 619 passes to the Eagles’ 383. Let’s hope now, that the forward momentum we have built back up, doesn’t fall apart in the forthcoming international break, like it did last time we reached the summit.

Man Of The Match: Daniel Sturridge – unlucky not to get two goals, Sturridge looked sharp as ever, his scoring form continuing. He is the top scorer in the campaign so far.

 

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: Sunderland vs Liverpool (29.09.13) W 1-3

- - Match Report

Sturridge and Suarez

Liverpool started the game in the 3-5-2 formation they used against Man United last week. Sakho, Skrtel and Toure providing the back line. I was a bit unsure of this at first as I’d much rather 4 defenders at the back. Early on, Sturridge was fouled on the edge of the box and Steven Gerrard stepped up to take the set piece. He curled it hard at the bottom left corner and Sunderland keeper, Keiren Westwood, managed to parry it away, only for defender, Martin Skrtel to latch onto it and slip it into the back of the net. Unfortunately for the away supporters, the linesman instantly gave it offside.

Sunderland certainly weren’t playing like a side at the foot of the table, with their supporters readily backing them and their attack putting Liverpool’s defenders under a lot of pressure. There was an injury scare for Liverpool’s returning star, Luis Suarez, when a heavy challenge caused him to receive treatment for a sore thigh. Lucas went in on a reckless challenge and conceded a free kick in a nice position. Sunderland Swede, Larsson rifled it past old boy, Simon Mignolet, only for it to strike the crossbar, saving Liverpool from embarrassment. Sunderland were unable to convert the 60% possession they had for the first twenty minutes though for a team that had no shots on target last weekend, they had managed seven attempts already in the opening quarter.

Against the run of play, Daniel Sturridge messily latched onto a cross into the box and what initially looked like a header, flew into the back of the net. Liverpool were one up at the Stadium of Light but the replay seemed to show that it was Sturridge’s arm that had knocked the goal in. It was given though and you have to take your lucky breaks when they are given. Soon after Sunderland forced a few corners, but then Sturridge broke again down the right flank and banged an easy ball into the box for Luis Suarez to make his premiership return a success as he easily tapped it into the back of the net to double the Reds’ lead.

Just before half time and Mignolet manages to keep his clean sheet with a stunning close range save. Liverpool get to half time two up and looking a lot healthier for it. If they can keep the scoreline as is for the rest of the game then they will ascend to second in the league. Gerrard has looked a lot stronger this match and has dictated the pace of the first half, though Sunderland’s performance hasn’t been bad and they can feel aggrieved at going in to such a deficit.

Sunderland continued plying the pressure early in the second half and were finally rewarded when Emanuele Giaccherini finished off an attack with a cracking strike which Mignolet should have got to but it slipped past into the back of the net. Mignolet managed to pull off a good save, redeeming himself a little, when Gardner made a good attempt on target. Sunderland were certainly looking like a strong side and I think that sacking the manager was a good move as it seems to have fired up their players. Liverpool, looking the worst of the two sides in the second half, managed to get forward and Victor Moses forced an unbelievable save from the Black Cats’ keeper. Victor Moses was looking like one of the better Liverpool players, with some deft touches, good runs and nice passing, thus far is a certain contender for man of the match.

Sunderland started making the substitutions with less than 20 minutes left, Lee Cattermole, who’d made some good stops, making way for Ondrej Celustka. Victor Moses was substituted for Liverpool, being replaced by Raheem Sterling, Henderson moving into the middle with the youngster taking up a place on the wing. I thought that maybe Henderson, who’d been flagging a little, would have been the one to make way. Sterling injected a lot of pace into the game for Liverpool and Jack Colbeck made a cynical foul as he was breaking through on a central run, gaining himself a yellow card. Lucas Leiva became the first Liverpool player to go into the book. It can’t be long before he faces his first ban as he’s picked up a few cards so far this season.

Sunderland made another change for the closing minutes, Charis Mavrias coming on for Sebastian Larsson. It was to no avail for Sunderland who soon as the game slipped back to a two goal margin, with Sturridge providing a perfect ball for Suarez to slot home his second. It was a perfect example of our strike force operating in tandem. We could have a devastating partnership on our hands this season.

The final whistle topped off a good away victory for the Reds. Suarez celebrated the birth of his new baby with a two goal comeback and Sturridge was back in the goals. We climb up to second in the League now, with only Arsenal above us. Sunderland looked like a side that could maybe avoid relegation. I’m sure that they will make life difficult for other premiership sides if they play as well as they did today against us. We have had a good weekend, taking advantage of three top four contenders all dropping points. I think our mini bad run is over and Liverpool are back as a force to be reckoned with.

Man Of The Match: Daniel Sturridge – He was back in the goals today and has scored eight out of Liverpool’s last ten goals. He also set up both of Suarez’s returning strikes. Sturridge looked good whenever he moved forward and was our danger man for the day.

Match Preview: Sunderland vs Liverpool (29.09.13)

- - Match Preview

sunderlandbadge liverpoolclubcrest

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool head to the Stadium of Light in Sunday afternoon’s big game. Sunderland are rooted to the bottom of the Premiership table with only one point from five matches. Their outspoken manager, Paolo Di Canio, was sacked last week. They look red hot favourites to face the drop this season. But, will the players react to the loss of their manager and pull out a performance against a Liverpool side who have lost their early season momentum? The Sunderland players had been critical of Di Canio and now have what they want so it is time for them to show what they are made of and put in a winning display. Will interim head coach, Kevin Ball, have what it takes to turn their fortunes around?

The big news for Liverpool is that Luis Suarez is likely to make his first premiership appearance since the ending of his ban. He failed to score in last Wednesday’s defeat in the Carling Cup to Manchester United, so he has a few points to prove himself. Will we see the form of last season’t Suarez, or is he yet to settle? Liverpool still have a stack of injuries and Aly Cissokho, Daniel Agger, Philippe Coutinho and Glen Johnson are all still out of action. Simon Mignolet is set to return to his former club for the first time and we can expect him to raise his game in front of his old crowd. He was the Sunderland player of the season last year and as the busiest keeper in the league so far this season, with 25 saves, his old side are certainly missing him. Jordan Henderson is another player who will face his former club.

The Black Cats are without their striker, Steven Fletcher, who suffered an injury is last week’s defeat to West Brom, where Sunderland failed to have a single attempt on goal. Sunderland are the only side left in the Premiership without a league win and have lost 3 on the bounce. Liverpool themselves though, including the midweek League Cup clash, have lost two consecutive games. Fabio Borini, who joined Sunderland on loan on transfer deadline day, is ineligible to play against his parent club. We can expect Sunderland to deploy Lee Cattermole as a tussling midfielder, as he is a Kevin Ball style player, who likes to get stuck in the nitty-gritty. Kevin Ball has a lot to gain from the match, as by beating Liverpool, it could cement his position as permanent manager of the flailing club.

The loss of Di Canio, could certainly have a dangerous effect on our opposition. Often, managerless clubs go on to get shock results. However, Liverpool’s class should show through and guide them to victory. They are aiming for top four and three points here would guide them back into the target zone, with only Arsenal having a points advantage. Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham all dropped points this weekend, so now is the time to capitalise and to settle for less than the three points on offer would be a blow. This is where the Liverpool downturn reverts back to good form. I expect a comfortable victory. We just have to get our strikeforce firing.

The Match kicks off at 4pm and is televised live on Sky Sports 1.

Match Report: Manchester United vs Liverpool (25.09.13) W 0-1

- - Match Report

Wayne Rooney

Liverpool started the match with Skrtel and Sakho in the centre, Toure right-back and Enrique on the left. The midfield remained unchanged from the Southampton game and Suarez rejoined the first team up front to partner Daniel Sturridge.

Manchester United came out of the stalls strongly and put Liverpool under a lot of pressure for the first ten or fifteen minutes. Liverpool then began to assert their dominance and had United pinned back in their own box.

The game seemed to undulate between phases where each side were on top, though neither side seemed able to pierce the defence well enough to get a decent strike on goal. There was a big battle going on in midfield with lots of pressing. Ryan Giggs ended up picking up a caution for a foul on Victor Moses and Lucas Leiva also joined him in the book for fouling Phil Jones. It was a shame that Liverpool couldn’t turn their first half pressure into goals.

Immediately after half-time, Man United broke the deadlock. Javier Hernandez latched onto a Wayne Rooney corner, leaving his marker Jose Enrique sleeping, and slotting the ball past Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal. We now needed to make a comeback and immediately Liverpool started ramping up their game. Liverpool had most of the possession but couldn’t convert. Shinji Kagawa turned on the ball wonderfully in midfield and, breaking through to the edge of the box, let fly with a stunning shot, forcing Mignolet into a good fingertip save. Luis Suarez started getting closer and closer, hitting a corner from the left of the area into the side netting. Victor Moses was looking really sharp, with most of the attacks going through him. He had a wonderful diving header saved by De Gea which should have really brought us level. Suarez’s fee kick had a deflection off Phil Jones and clipped the crossbar. All he needed now was a goal.

Martin Kelly came on for Liverpool, taking the place of Lucas Leiva and forcing Jordan Henderson into the centre of midfield. United started to make some changes from the bench with Hernandez and Kagawa making way for Michael Carrick and Adnan Januzaj. Manchester United were relying heavily on the counter-attack. Henderson managed to get into the book and gave away a nicely positioned free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Rooney stepped up and Mignolet made an excellent parry save from him. Only a minute later Rooney again made Mignolet stretch for a save. The balance of power was changing.

Liverpool were playing really well and getting through to the final third easily enough. Yet, they lacked composure in attack and just struggled to put De Gea under pressure. Sturridge, in particular, seemed guilty often, of misplacing the final ball.

Moving into the last ten minutes and Ryan Giggs and Jordan Henderson had a tete a tete after Giggs, already on a yellow card, kicked the ball away to waste time. Referee, Mark Clattenburg, diffused the situation with no further action. Suarez broke through into the box and delivered a ball on a plate for Kolo Toure, who just couldn’t connect properly, skimming it wide. united held on to the final whistle and claimed a much needed victory. Final score: 1-0. We had the majority of the possession but just didn’t seem to have the necessary concentration to make that possession count. It’s been three poor performances on the trot for Liverpool now. That’s one of the three available pieces of silverware for the season, firmly out of our grasp. Let’s hope we can change our fortunes against the downtrodden Sunderland on Sunday.
Man Of The Match: Wayne Rooney – he set up the goal and was the most dangerous Man United player on the pitch, playing with passion.

 

Match Preview: Manchester United vs Liverpool (25.09.13)

- - Match Preview

Manchester UnitedLiverpool FC

 

 

 

 

 

This fixture, so early on in the Carling Cup, is perhaps one we would have wanted to avoid. United are a strong side and to face them at any stage of a cup competition is daunting. However, I would argue that they are currently on the ropes and that this fourth round tie is an ideal one for us to rub their noses in their downtrodden start to the season. They have only managed one point in three games against leading sides and we have already beaten them at Anfield only a few weeks ago. David Moyes is struggling and after Di Canio’s early exit, I’d say that the new United manager must be the bookie’s favourite to be the next Premiership manager to face dismissal.

The Carling Cup is traditionally used to bed in fringe and youth players, though with the gravity of today’s opponenets, I can see Brendan Rodgers choosing a strong side to face them. We aren’t in Europe this year so that makes the domestic cups all the more important. The Carling Cup is a very winnable trophy and we should do all we can to further our goals in this competition.

Of course, the big news is that Luis Suarez is back available for selection after his ten match ban expired. What a game for our star striker to return to! He will relish the prospect of facing old adversaries such as Patrice Evra, and should he be picked in the starting eleven, we can expect big things from King Luis.

We’ve got some injuries setting us back. Glen Johnson will still be out, which is a real loss after he turned in a fantastic display in our previous game against Man United this season. Philippe Coutinho has a successful operation on his shoulder but is still likely to be missing for a month. Aly Cissokho is still out and Daniel Agger is unlikely to play after coming off injured against Southampton and admitting he shouldn’t have made himself available for selection for that game. Good news is that Enrique should be fit enough to return and also there is no reason why Martin Kelly cannot fit in defensively, thus eliminating our over-reliance on central defenders last Saturday. Will Joe Allen step in for the under-performing captain, Steven Gerrard? I hope not as I think we need our talisman to fire up the ranks in such an intimidating away stadium. Maybe because it is the Carling Cup and essentially a test ground for youth players, there will be room for either Raheem Sterling or Jordan Ibe somewhere in the attack. I think both had strong preseasons and warrant a game or two in the campaign and maybe this is an ideal fixture to let them loose. Whether the on-form Daniel Sturridge will feature from the start is a question? He might get initially rested and come on from the bench as an impact player, should we need him.

On the United front, it looks as though their lead goalscorer, Robin Van Persie, will still be out injured after failing to make the Man City game on the weekend. Defenders, Rafael and Phil Jones are likely to also be sitting out with injuries, though wingers Wilfried Zaha and Nani both should be available for selection. Wayne Rooney is likely to prove a dangerous opponent, with a record of three goals against Liverpool in the last three home fixtures against them. The former Evertonian hates us Kopites with a passion and with the pressure clearly on his team for this match we can expect him to come out all guns blazing.

I think that Moyes will be desperate for victory though this could lead to him making mistakes in over-exerting his players. Brendan Rodgers needs to keep his cool and bring up the team’s performance to the standard they were setting right at the start of this season. All being well, we should progress and I think that circumstances are certainly in our favour. It will be a challenge, but who, as a Liverpool fan, will not relish defeating our bitter rivals for the second time this season?

The match kicks off at 7.45pm and is being televised on Sky Sports 1.