Posts Tagged: "Martin Kelly"

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.

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Match Report: Liverpool vs West Ham (07.12.13) W 4-1

- - Match Report

Man Of The Match: Luis Suarez

Prior to the whistle there was a tribute to Nelson Mandela. Whatever your views on Mandela there is no doubt he was an icon of the twentieth century and he did have links to our football club. After he died, I found this post online showing photos of him meeting the Liverpool team and also sporting a Liverpool top. This is enough for me to wish he rest in peace. http://www.thisisanfield.com/2013/12/liverpool-football-unites-pay-tribute-nelson-mandela-died-aged-95/

The match got underway, with further tinkering in the centre backs. Rotation seems to be a fixed policy. Martin Skrtel seems first choice and a constant, but Daniel Agger was dropped today in favour of Mamadou Sakho. I think that Sakho has good potential and he did very well recently for France in their critical world cup qualifiers. West Ham’s attack aren’t great so maybe that elusive clean sheet will come good today?

Luis Suarez looked keen and lobbed an early attempt wide, he was linking well with Philippe Coutinho too. West Ham are likely to hole up their defence today (like they did last season) but our attack could be very dangerous. West Ham gave a bit of tit-for-tat and got an early corner at their business end of the pitch. It was straight back up the other end, though, with Jordan Henderson this time putting West Ham under pressure.
West Ham were surprising tactically – Rather than shutting up shop, they set up in quite an open formation and were giving as good as they got in terms of attacking. It was an open game and could go either way. Modibo Maiga latched onto a good cross, and finding a good gap between the central defenders, put a strong header in on goal only for the superb Simon Mignolet to save well.

It took until 40 minutes for Liverpool to get their breakthrough. Jussi Jääskeläinen saved a blast from Luis Suarez but unluckily for the Hammers it rebounded into the goal off their own player, Guy Demel. Liverpool were a goal to the good and Luis, perhaps angry at not being able to claim this goal, was straight back up to almost get another, this time shooting over the bar. West Ham had done well first half, and we’ll need another goal to secure this game in the second half.

Just after half-time Martin Skrtel stepped up to double the lead. Steven Gerrard delivered a free kick which Mamadou Sakho got onto and combining with Skrtel the ball ended up in the back of the net. It’s nice for people other than Luis Suarez to contribute on the scoresheet! It gets boring all these goals he’s scoring! lol

A bit of bad news followed with Steven Gerrard pulling up and having to be precautionary withdrawn and replaced by Lucas Leiva. Hopefully it will be nothing serious and the job is half done for this match. Glen Johnson took up the captan’s armband.  West Ham changed Joey O’Brien for James Tomkins.

The big difference in the second half is that Liverpool became totally dominant. Our attack was much more varied now, with good combinations coming throughout the whole team which was good to see. Chances were flying about thick and fast with Coutinho and Raheem Sterling both going close.

If things were going well upfront, then in defence that elusive clean sheet slipped past us yet again. This time we were the victim of bad luck. On a rare West Ham forward move, Jarvis headed and it came off Skrtel for an own goal. Suddenly the Hammers had found their way back into the match and the impetus was now with them.

Big danger, as now Joe Cole was on the pitch… though he might have started, I just noticed him as he went into the ref’s book… Raheem Sterling off, Victor Moses on. A good game from Raheem today – our fringe squad members are staking their places well. It was good to see Martin Kelly come off the bench too, though Jon Flanagan had had another good game. I think Rodgers has made some positive substitutions with West Ham starting to show strength. A fresh face or two could put us back in the mix properly.

Liverpool Lu soon came to the rescue… He got on the end of a decent Glen Johnson cross to bang in yet another Anfield goal. Into the last ten minutes with the two goal deficit restored. Kevin Nolan gave the game another turn by going straight through the back of the already tender Jordan Henderson and getting a straight red card for his troubles. Luis, again, with his brace, a nice solo effort culminating in a deflected blast. On a hat-trick now he kept on pressurising the Hammers. Is there any stopping this man? I pray that he meant that he wants to stay with us and I hope that our board come through on the promise to make him one of the league’s top earners when they offer a new contract. All seems forgiven for the summer of woe and our main man looks as though he could be picking up a Ballon D’Or any time soon.

Full time: Liverpool 4-1 West Ham… West Ham were courageous but who on earth can stop our main man at present. An excellent team performance. A good couple of home wins. Next up we have a series of trickier opponents which I think could prove to us if we really will be in with a chance of a top four finish at the end of the season. Back in second now. Let’s see where we are at Christmas.

Man of The Match: Up until the 70th minute I was going to give it to Philippe Coutinho who I think played very well and showed he had fully recovered from his injury, but it’s another no-brainer, Luis Suarez, stepping up when it mattered and winning the game for us with a late brace. Luis will probably be a bit disappointed with his performance which let’s face it at only 2 goals in below par… I’d be surprised if the bookies accept any further bets on the top scorer this season. Prove the haters wrong, lad, and keep hope in your heart…

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 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.