Posts Tagged: "Manchester United"

Match Preview: Chelsea vs Liverpool (29.12.13)

- - Match Preview

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Brendan Rodgers, as manager of Liverpool, has never lost two games in a row. He accomplished this feat whilst at Swansea too. Yes, we slipped on the carcass of the Christmas Turkey on Boxing Day and fell to Manchester City in a game we should have won. Perhaps it was a case of too much Christmas Day revelry, knowing we had made it to the top of the league for Christmas? Anyway, we cannot change the fact that we go into today’s match at Stamford Bridge in fourth place. Chelsea are a point and a place ahead, in third. Looking at the table after Saturday’s games, it is quite frightening to see that Moyes’ Mancs are just two points below us now. For all the giggling we’ve been doing at them this season…. we really ought to shape up and assert ourselves until we hit the summit again…. and stay there this time. It’s tighter than a pair of leggings at the top this season.

On paper, one might suggest that today’s fixture is an easier one than our visit to the Etihad. However, we go into the game with a squad, already plagued with injuries that has been weakened even further. The proximity of the January transfer window will be a godsend for us. If we are to maintain contact with the top four and possibly attempt to win the league we need a stronger squad. Jon Flanagan is still out. Steven Gerrard, closer to recovery is still absent, along with Daniel Sturridge plus the other long-termers. Victor Moses is ineligible due to his loan conditions, ruling out a Boxing Day player. Our squad is thin on the ground. Aly Cissokho, who didn’t win the praise of the fans last week, is likely to deputise at left-back. There is talk of Daniel Agger replacing Mamadou Sakho in the centre half position though some more cautious liverpool pundits have stated that it’d be better to wait for the Hull fixture to make this change. Simon Mignolet will need to be less shaky today, and we’ll need the midfield firing up well. I thought our attacking triangle against Man City did very well. Philippe Coutinho seemed to sparkle and Raheem Sterling continues to be in top form. There has been a question mark over Luis Suarez’s record against the top sides. He has failed to score in our fixtures this season against Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City. He will be keen to silence doubters and can expect an extra hostile crowd, especially with it being his first meeting with Ivanovic since the notorious biting incident.

Chelsea’s ranks are also depleted though they have a much stronger squad. Ramires is out with a suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. Frank Lampard will most likely step up to replace him and there is no love lost between Frank and us. I’ve not been a fan of his since he broke Xabi Alonso’s ankle at Anfield on New Year’s Day several years ago and proceeded to taunt the Kop, proud of his exploits. Jose Mourinho rotates his defence and Ashley Cole is likely to be replaced by Cesar Azpilicueta. John Terry hits a landmark 600th Chelsea cap in today’s game. Fernando Torres is likely to be up front against the Reds, but this is good news really. In six games against us since he moved he has failed to score a single goal and is yet to register a victory. Chelsea have been far less prolific in front of goal than us so far this season, scoring ten goals fewer. Our defence is likely to be threatened less than on Boxing Day, though Chelsea’s defence is certainly among the strongest in the division.

Brendan Rodgers and Jose Mourinho have a deep mutual respect and with Rodgers having served as junior team coach and also reserve team coach during the outspoken Portuguese’s previous reign at the Blues, both will be well up on each other’s tactics. Rodgers is his three latest managerial jobs has never beaten a Mourinho side. Jose is wily. His return to English football has seen a cagier less flamboyant press image and a seemingly deeper thinking seriousness about him. Chelsea’s football has been criticised for not being free flowing, but they are sitting a point above us.

There’s bad news for the referee doubting Liverpool manager as one of our least favourite men in black takes charge of today’s game. Howard Webb will surely have one eye on the two point gap in the table that separates our side from his. I just hope his Christmas scotch was a little sour.

Another defeat would surely put a spanner in the works. If we can stay in the hunt to the new year, we have an easier run of games coming up and key players are due back from injury. The second half of the season sees us taking most of the top sides back to Anfield where it has been re-established as a fortress. The omen’s are good but today’s game is very crucial. It is a pivot point in our season.

The match kicks off at 4pm and will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Match Preview: Liverpool vs Cardiff City (21.12.13)

- - Match Preview

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The Christmas games are upon us and we have almost reached the traditional halfway stage of the league season. Liverpool are sat happy in second and a win today will put them top with Arsenal needing a victory on Monday against Chelsea to regain number 1 spot in time for the festivities. Liverpool fans are in ebullient mood after last week’s demolition of Tottenham. Three straight victories and possibly the world’s best player in untouchable form… All looks good for the Anfielders…

Cardiff City come to a tricky away fixture in what has been a bad week for them. They lie in fifteenth in the table, only four points from the drop-zone, but a win today would take them to tenth… It hasn’t been a bad season for them really. For novice top-flighters they are doing well with some impressive results against top sides including a victory against Manchester City and a good draw against Manchester United. This week has seen controversial Malaysian owner Vincent Tan issue an ultimatum to manager Malky Mackay to either resign or be sacked. t’s provoked a great deal of sympathy and reaction for the manager, including in particular from his former colleague, Brendan Rodgers, who was one of the first people to stand firmly behind the under pressure boss. Personally I think that the Cardiff City fans should have forced Vincent Tan out when he started making irrational decisions about their kit colour. How a team nicknamed ‘The Bluebirds’ should be forced to change to red, God only knows. Just imagine the furore if Liverpool suddenly changed colour to blue… It just wouldn’t be possible. We, as a club, know exactly what problems bad owners can cause after the Gillett and Hicks saga. Cardiff should maybe learn from us and see how it is possible to get rid of bad owners, if it is perhaps more difficult than changing manager.

On a positive note, something I noticed about a month ago, was an announcement by Liverpool and Cardiff City that both clubs have mutually agreed to offer supporters a discount on tickets for the two matches they have scheduled this season. All supporters get a five pound reduction at the Anfield turnstiles and there will be a similar discount in the Cardiff fixture later in the year. In today’s money-hungry competitive game, it is nice to see two clubs being amicable and giving something back to the people.

Liverpool’s off-field news has been a lot more uplifting. The perfect Christmas present for Reds supporters across the world was announced on Friday, with our talisman and star player, Luis Suarez, putting pen to paper and signing a new four and a half year contract. Critics might suggest that contracts are pretty worthless, but should things deteriorate the £90 million buyout clause is certainly good insurance. If I’d have been told at the height of the summer that by Christmas the Luis situation would be as it is, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’ve always liked Luis and rated him highly but he has surpassed all expectations and the future of our club is on his shoulders. I hope that all Liverpool fans can do their best to keep him and his family happy in the UK, where he is welcome, whatever the press might be saying. We have something special on our hands, perhaps more special than anything I can remember in Liverpool history. The sky’s the limit with Liverpool Lu.

There have been no further injuries this week and Brendan Rodgers could well start the same eleven from last week. Consistency in central defence seems to have been found with Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel being the favoured formula. I think Jordan Henderson’s engine could really rev up our midfield and I can’t see what could be gained by making any changes to the lineup… Cardiff have only scored 12 goals all season so are not a great threat up front. Craig Bellamy could be vital today for them, with his experience and knowledge of Liverpool, though he faces a fitness test to see if he’s available. Other than that, the Cardiff dugout (whoever is in it!) will have a full side available for selection.

Today’s is a rare fixture. The last time these sides met at Anfield in the league was in 1959. Cardiff were riding high in Division 2 and Liverpool were languishing. Cardiff won 4-0 that day. The match was a pivotal moment in our history, however, as it was the first game in charge for our new manager, Bill Shankly, who, of course reversed the fortunes of our great club and led them to where they stand today. It’s a good job that Vincent Tan wasn’t in charge back then or Shankly may not have lasted…

Apparently, the Cardiff owner has plans to attend the game and the Kop have already stated that they will be joining in with any Cardiff fans’ demonstrations. It will be a Christmas pantomime, whatever the result, though I can’t see Cardiff realistically being able to deal with the pressure and no defender in the world is able to cope with Luis Suarez.

We have to be cautious and keep one eye on the two big away games we have after this one. Chelsea and Manchester City will require full concentration and now is the time to prepare.

The match kicks off at 12.45pm and will be shown live on BT Sport.

Match Preview: Arsenal vs Liverpool (02.11.13)

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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 Preview: Sunderland vs Liverpool (29.09.13)

- - Match Preview

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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

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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)

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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.