TRUE KOPITES WE ARE THE REDS COMMUNITY PAGE
Monday, 28 February 2011
With Liverpool on their best run of form of the season there was high hopes of keeping this run of form going at East London. Fresh from a tough Europa League win over Sparta Prague last Thursday changes to the team would be expected as Dalglish would look to freshen things up. West Ham who are struggling at the bottom of the table have looked a better side in recent weeks with a few new players coming in the January transfer window has really strengthened the Hammers. So I'm sure Liverpool were expecting a very tough game.
As expected Dalglish did make changes to his side, Skrtel and Carragher came back into defence with Suarez and club captain Gerrard also starting. Young Wilson kept his place on the left side of defence with Kelly on the right, it really had a good attacking look to the side with Johnson starting on the left side of midfield giving plenty of pace down the flanks. Lucas and Meireles in the middle with Kuyt and Suarez pushing forward and Gerrard pulling the strings looked a positive line-up.
The game started with Liverpool almost getting an early chance when Suarez just failed to find the onrushing Gerrard, but West Ham responded with Hitzlsperger volleying from long range which gave Reina some early action. The game was off to a hectic start as Liverpool had the next chance when Gerrard found Meireles with a clever pass but his header was off target, then Meireles had a shot comfortably saved by Green. Liverpool were having the better of the chances and Johnson had a powerful goalbound header blocked. But the game changed with the first goal and it was West Ham that got it on 22 minutes when a clever move between Parker and Hitzlsperger was expertly finished by Parker stunning Liverpool who had started the game well. Liverpool responded immediately with Suarez laying off to Kuyt but his 25 yard shot hit the side netting. But the goal gave West Ham a real lift and Piquionne flashed a shot across the face of goal as Liverpool were put under pressure. Gerrard was not seeing much of the ball as the West Ham midfield were not giving Liverpool time on the ball, the industrious Parker dominating the midfield. Kelly and Johnson were looking Liverpool's biggest threat down the flanks and it was Kelly who had the next chance as he cut in from the right and hit a low drive which Green dived low to save, minutes later Kelly made a surging run down the right but pulled up clutching his left hamstring and had to be replaced by Joe Cole with Johnson coming over to his more familiar right back position. If that blow was not bad enough then worse was to follow as West Ham doubled their lead when O'Neil crossed to the unmarked Ba who headed past the helpless Reina just before half time. 4 minutes into the second half Meireles had to be replaced by N'Gog after picking up an injury in the first half. West Ham were still dominating as Liverpool struggled to gain a foothold in the match as Ba went very close with a shot. Hitzlsperger and Jacobsen had long range efforts as West Ham kept on the offensive. Suarez who had been well martialled all day turned Upson and unleashed a powerful shot which Green saved brilliantly. Piquionne should have made it 3-0 with a free header from close range, then Gerrard had a long range effort just over as Liverpool started to sustain some late pressure. Then on 84 minutes Suarez turned brilliantly before firing across the face of goal which Johnson knocked in from close range giving Liverpool hope. But in stoppage time Liverpool were finished off when Cole shrugged off Skrtel before beating Reina at his near post with a low drive.
I knew this would be a very tough game but I was disappointed the way West Ham dominated us for long periods after us starting off quite well. The first goal proved crucial as West Ham were boosted by it and started to dominate. I was really happy with Kenny's team selection as it had an attacking look to it but I felt we lost the midfield battle as Parker dominated and Gerrard struggled to get into the game looking a bit rusty aswell. Overall I though the hungrier looking team won and we need to pick ourselves up and improve for the visit of Manchester United next Sunday.
Man of the Match - Johnson - made some good runs forward and rewarded with a goal.
Saturday, 26 February 2011
After the dull goaless draw in Prague last week it was time to find a winner in this Europa League second leg tie. With an unusually early kick-off time of 6 o'clock it was tremendous to see a packed Anfield for this match, obviously showing the importance of this competition. Everybody certainly was anticipating goals in this one. With Sparta just back from their winter break and Liverpool having a full week to prepare for the match there should be no excuse for tiredness. Liverpool were strong favourites going into this match especially after the creditable no score draw from the first leg.
Dalglish made 4 changes from last weeks match in the hope of getting some goals. Kelly back in the team to bomb forward with Wilson at left back again with Kyrgiakos and fit again Agger in the middle of defence with Carragher being rested. Joe Cole was brought back into the side on the left with Lucas and Poulsen in the middle with Kuyt on the right. Meireles pushing forward supporting N'Gog in attack.
Liverpool attacked from the off and had a big shout for a penalty when a Meireles cross hit the hand of Parnic but the referee waved away the appeals. Joe Cole who started brightly sent over a misdirected cross which just evaded the bar. Sparta came into the game and looked a different side to the first leg as they started to give Liverpool some problems. Kadlec hit a dipping volley just over Reina's crossbar, then the same player had a header well saved by Reina as Sparta showed more venture. Liverpool had the next chance with a brilliant header from a corner well saved from Blazek. Kelly was looking like Liverpool's best attacking ploy with his strong runs forward, the next chance in the match came from a Kelly cross which Cole headed well wide. Sparta had the next chance with a corner which caught Reina flapping at, but thankfully Wilson was there to head clear. The next chance was created by Kelly as his perfect cross was met by Meireles but his half volley was skied over the bar. N'Gog had another chance before half time but it was well saved by Blazek. So the sides went in at 0-0 at half-time but Liverpool were dealt a blow with Kelly having to be replaced by Carragher due to injury. Early in the second half N'Gog had two chances in the first five minutes for Liverpool. Then on 55 minutes Matejovski hit a free-kick straight into the Liverpool wall. But Sparta's defence was proving stubborn as Liverpool were having more of the chances, Cole and Kuyt had chances brilliantly deflected to safety, then on 74 minutes Meireles sent N'Gog clear but Blazek saved well from a tight angle. As the game looked set for extra time Dirk Kuyt pounced to give Liverpool the lead on 86 minutes with a clever header from a Meireles corner. Liverpool held on for the remainding minutes and progressed to the last 16 of the competition.
It turned out to be a very tough match for Liverpool as Sparta looked a much improved side. But I felt Liverpool had a few players underperforming with the likes of Lucas and Poulsen especially poor. However, Kelly was a big threat going forward and I was disheartened when he came off at half-time. Kyrgiakos had a very strong game in defence with Meireles working his socks off in midfield and always looking to create. I was disappointed once again with N'Gog as he was given a few chances but unable to score. Joe Cole started quite well but faded I was hoping for more from him. Wilson had another steady game at the back and I was sorry to see Agger pick up another injury. Dirk Kuyt was immense and deserved that winning goal. Overall Sparta made it tough for us and it was a tough game but we did well to scrape through with so many players missing.
Man Of The Match - Kuyt - Workaholic, never stopped, created chances and deserved a goal, superb match.
Thursday, 24 February 2011
Well its about 8 hours untill kick-off as I start to write this article on tonight's big match, our last chance of silverware this season so this match takes up so much importance for us. I have just found out that the match is a sell out which just shows the importance this match is to the supporters, with the game being an early 6 o'clock kick-off and being shown live on TV makes it all the more remarkable that it is a sell out. I'm sure the support will generate one of those special European night atmospheres' that only our supporters can generate. After a dull but creditable 0-0 draw away in Prague last Thursday the tie is finely balanced.
On the team front I think Dalglish will play as strong a team as he can as he knows how valuable this competition is to the club and the supporters. I don't think Gerrard will be risked as he is just coming back from injury, but I think Dalglish will have him on the bench just incase things are not going to plan. Suarez is unavailable too and Carroll is still recovering from injury, so we are pretty lightweight up front which is a worry as we need to score.It was also a blow with Aurelio picking up an injury in the first leg. It is good to hear that Agger is now fit again and available for selection.
Goalkeeper - Reina
Right Back - Kelly
Left Back - Johnson
Centre Back - Carragher
Centre Back - Agger
Left Midfield - Cole
Right Midfield -Maxi
Centre Midfield - Meireles
Centre Midfield - Lucas
Striker - N'Gog
Striker - Kuyt
This is what I think the team could be for tonight or what I would like to see as the team for tonight with the players we have available. I think Dalglish will bring back Kelly and Agger into defence tonight with Johnson switching over to left back once again. We have got to play with two strikers tonight as we need goals, so I will go with Kuyt and N'Gog up front as N'Gog looked very isolated last week playing up front on his own so Kuyt will push higher up the park in what I think is his best position. Lucas and Meireles in the middle of midfield with Meireles pushing forward as he usually does. Maxi on the right of midfield tonight as I'm sure he will link up well with Kelly bombing forward down the right. I'm sure many of you may be surprised with my inclusion of Cole on the left but I have a feeling Kenny may play him as he is a player capable of creating, don't get me wrong it would be a gamble with Cole as he hasn't played much recently but Kenny might just give him the vote of confidence tonight. Overall I think this team could get us goals tonight and still be solid at the back, whatever the team here's hoping for another great European night at Anfield.
Prediction - Liverpool 2-0 Sparta Prague
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Danny Wilson is looking for more first team matches as he wants to grab any opportunity given to impress.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - I see Wilson being a regular in the near future he looks a very good defender and played really well with Rangers too.
Joe Cole admits that his debut season as a Liverpool player hasn't gone to plan but he is determined to play a role in helping Liverpool finish the season strongly.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - He has been very unlucky this season in what has been a stop start season for him, I'm sure he has a lot to offer us.
Kenny Dalglish insists Gerrard will not be risked on Thursday night unless he is fully fit.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - I don't think we can risk him with so many big games coming up, but we may see him on the bench incase things are going against us.
Agger is now fully fit and will be available for selection against Sparta Prague.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Agger has been playing really well before his injury so its ecouraging to see him fit again.
Dalglish has played down speculation of Andy Carroll making his debut at the weekend against West Ham, but has revealed that Carroll has stepped up his recovery.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Like every other fan I can't wait to see the big man play, doesn't seem too far away from fitness.
A team of Liverpool Legends will take part next month in the 2011 Malaysian Masters sponsored by Standard Chartered. The squad will include Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Rob Jones, Phil Babb, Stephane Henchoz, Vladimir Smicer, Steve McMahon, Michael Thomas and Dominic Matteo.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Some great former players there, pity we can't turn the clock back.
Liverpool Legend Ian Rush was special guest as Liverpool launched their first soccer school in Northern Ireland last week. 100 primary school children attended the three day course.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Great to see Liverpool branch out to kids in different countries I hope they start one up here in Scotland as there is also a big fan base up here.
Liverpool's FA Youth Cup 1/4 Final against Manchester United will take place at Anfield on Sunday 13th March at Midday.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - A massive game for the youngsters I'm looking forward to it and the way their playing they have nothing to fear.
Stadium announcer George Sephton celebrated his 65th birthday yesterday, George is in the middle of his 40th season as stadium announcer at Anfield.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Happy birthday George I hope we hear your voice for many years to come .
Transfer Rumour - Reports suggest Liverpool are tracking Marseille left back Taje Taiwo.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Good to see so many left backs being linked with us as its a problem position.
Transfer Rumour - Liverpool will not budge on their £11 million asking price for Aqualani as Juventus hope to sign him on a permanent contract.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Quite right too we don't want to lose any more money on him as we never got value for our money with him.
Monday, 21 February 2011
Luis Suarez returned for an emotional farewell with Ajax players and fans yesterday afternoon.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Suarez was obviously much loved at Ajax and I think we have signed a cracking player by getting him. He is going to be much loved here too.
Dirk Kuyt has revealed that his choice of music has helped inspire the Reds to their good run of form since being installed as dressing room DJ.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Long may he continue being DJ if this run of form continues, even if his choice of music is rubbish.
Liverpool Under 18's continued their impressive run of form on Saturday with a 4-1 win over Stoke City. Skipper Conor Coady opened the scoring with a superb strike, with red hot Sterling netting a double and Adam Morgan getting the other.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - The youngsters in this team really are impressive, won't be long before they are starring in the first team.
Transfer Rumour - Kenny Dalglish was in Glasgow yesterday to watch Celtic left back Emilio Izaguirre in the old firm match.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - left back is position we need strengthened and Izaguirre has been tremendous for Celtic this season and I think he could do a good job for us.
Transfer Rumour - strong suggestions of Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia still on Liverpool's radar.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - He would be a great addition for us with the left sided players in short supply in our squad.
Transfer Rumour - 20 year old Lille winger Eden Hazard is being linked with a host of Premiership clubs with Liverpool being one of them.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - This guy is a cracking player but I don't think we will get him unless we finish in the top 4.
Transfer Rumour - Juventus are hoping to make the loan signing of Alberto Aqualani permanent in the summer, but the price Liverpool are looking for could be a big problem.
THE LIVERWORD - If they want him that much then pay up they knew the valuation when they took him, typical Italians chancing their luck.
Transfer Rumour - Liverpool are closely monitoring 17 year old Ipswich Town striker Connor Wickham with Kenny Dalglish making a personal check on the player recently.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Kenny really does take a big interest in good youngsters which can only stand us in good stead for the future, he really is puting everything into his new job and he is the best man we could have got.
Dirk Kuyt is hoping to extend his stay at Liverpool and has stated that talks about a new contract have been positive.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Kuyt is a big player for us, he gives everything for the team in every game wherever he is played, hopefully his contract gets sorted out soon then we can sort out other key players, especially Reina who has had so many rumours flying around.
Sunday, 20 February 2011
This competition has taken on more importance for Liverpool as the season has went on, especially now as its their only chance of silverware this season. A game with personal importance for Kenny Dalglish as it was his first match in charge of Liverpool in Europe. With Liverpool going into the match with a few injuries and a threadbare squad it was never going to be an easy game.
Liverpool went into this game with few attacking options and set their stall out to not lose. Big expectations with many youth players added to the squad with special mention to 16 year old Raheem Sterling who was fresh from scoring 5 goals in Monday's FA Youth Cup match win over Southend. But only the youth team captain Conor Coady actually made the bench as Liverpool did manage to field an experienced side with exception to 19 year old Danny Wilson who came in at left back. Without knowing what the team would be I had no idea where we were going to get goals from with Agger, Gerrard, Carroll and Suarez missing for this match. N'Gog leading the line in a weak attack.
A very cold night in Prague and the game started in very cagey fashion as Liverpool passed the ball about without getting forward. In fact the first chance came on 13 minutes when Meireles and Aurelio got into a mix up but Keric shot off target. Chances were at a premium as Liverpool seemed happy to contain Sparta Matejovsky had the next chance shooting wide from 25 yards, then Reina had to palm away a Parnic shot as Sparta looked for the opener. As the half wore on N'Gog was looking more and more an isolated figure as Liverpool never threatened the Sparta goal, it was 29 minutes before Liverpool had a shot at goal with Aurelio having a bouncing effort from long range. Sparta almost scored in the 35th minute but Matejovsky had his goalbound shot brilliantly blocked by Kyrgiakos. Then Aurelio picked up an injury and was replaced by Joe Cole. A Meireles corner was flicked on by N'Gog just on half-time but Kuyt failed to make sufficient contact. The second half was more of the same but Johnson did add more of an attacking threat with his runs down the right but too often there was nobody in the box to meet his crosses. Reina made a good save to deny Kweuke as Sparta tried to find a goal to take a lead to Anfield but overall Liverpool were quite comfortable with what Sparta had to offer and they held out for a decent result away from home in Europe.
A big build up for this game being Kenny's first venture into Europe as a Liverpool manager, but what a disappointing game. To be fair I was expecting it really as Kenny had very few attacking options with Gerrard, Suarez and Carroll all unavailable. So I thought we would really struggle to score and so it proved but we hardly threatened the Sparta goal all night which was really poor but I think Kenny opted for a very unusual conservative game plan due to his lack of attacking options, at least his game plan worked as Sparta rarely threatened. Great to see Danny Wilson starting some youth players in the squad giving them good experience. I'm sure it will be a totally different game at Anfield next Thursday and confident we will win.
Man Of The Match - Kyrgiakos - A very strong performance from the big man and made one goal saving block too.
Monday, 14 February 2011
With Liverpool on their best run of form of the season, Liverpool were hoping to extend their winning streak to 5 games. Expectations have risen dramatically in a short space of time since the return of Dalglish and especially after Liverpool's tremendous win at Chelsea last weekend. I don't think there would be many Liverpool supporters predicting anything other than a home win but Wigan are a strong side and capable of beating anyone on their day.
Dalglish had to make changes for this one with Gerrard the biggest loss after picking up an injury against Chelsea he also missed England's midweek win over Denmark. Daniel Agger also picked up an injury midweek playing for Denmark in their loss to England. So Dalglish played with Carragher and Skrtel in the middle of defence with Kelly and Johnson the full backs. With Gerrard missing Dalglish brought Aurelio back into the side on the left in midfield with usual suspects Meireles and Lucas in the middle, Maxi was moved over to the right of midfield with Kuyt and Suarez in attack, Suarez making his first start for Liverpool.
Liverpool started the match on the front foot with Suarez having an appeal for a penalty waved away inside 3 minutes when he went down under a challenge from Caldwell. Liverpool looked for the opener and settled into their passing game quickly and on 18 minutes Kuyt had a shot saved by Al Habsi at the second attempt. Liverpool's attacking play was rewarded on 24 minutes when Aurelio sent a cross over from the left and Gohouri's headed clearance fell to Meireles just inside the box and he volleyed past Al Habsi to give Liverpool a deserved lead. Moments later Suarez almost made it 2-0 when he cut in from the left and fired a shot off the base of the far post. Wigan were not going to go down without a fight and they came back into the game and had a good spell of sustained pressure before the break with Reina having to make a save from a N'Zogbia free kick. Liverpool were relieved to hear the half-time whistle.
Seconds after the re-start Wigan almost equalised when N'Zogbia broke down the right only to see his low cross cut out by Skrtel as Rodallega looked certain to score. Liverpool's next chance came when Suarez hit a 20 yard shot which was well saved by Al Habsi. Liverpool were dealt a blow when Meireles had to go off on 54 minutes being replaced by N'Gog. This substitution affected Liverpool's passing game and Wigan came more into the game. Aurelio hit a free kick over the bar and Kuyt had a shot well saved from Al Habsi but Wigan were starting to look more threatening and they got their equaliser in the 65th minute when N'Zogbia fired in a dangerous inswinging cross which found Gohouri sliding in at the back post to prod the ball past Reina, there was a suspicion of offside about the goal but it counted. Wigan had a good spell after the goal as Liverpool found it hard to gain possession, but as the game wore on with time running out it was Liverpool that started to dominate as they looked for a winner, Suarez went close again crashing a free-kick off the bar and had a curling effort ending up in the crowd. In the closing stages Aurelio went close with a long range effort and Skrtel headed over but Wigan held on for a point and Liverpool's winning streak ended.
I think this game highlighted how threadbare our squad is when we have key players out. Gerrard always is a massive miss and Agger has been playing so well although I don't think we missed him too much, but for me the turning point in the match was when Meireles had to leave the field our midfield suddenly lost its way and its passing game, I was worried at the time when I saw him going off and N'Gog coming on, as I don't think N'Gog is good enough, but it just shows the lack of strength in depth in the squad. I thought we played quite well and passed well and created chances but we just couldn't get a second goal. Suarez impressed and was a real handful for the Wigan defence. Lucas had a good game on his 100th league appearance for Liverpool. It was a day typical of our season as luck deserted us with Suarez hitting the woodwork twice and Wigan's equaliser looking offside for me. Wigan did make it difficult and they would argue the deserved a draw but I think we did enough to win.
Man Of The Match - Suarez - a real threat all day and so unlucky not to score, plenty more to come from him.
Friday, 11 February 2011
Liverpool defender Agger has paid tribute to Kenny Dalglish for his positive brand of football being a significant factor in Liverpool's recent revival.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Agree Kenny has certainly installed a more attacking approach to Liverpool's style of play, even last week when the approach was more defensive Liverpool made sure they got numbers forward when attacking.
Liverpool have confirmed defender Daniel Ayala has joined Derby County until the end of the season.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Ayala looks a great prospect and this will give him valuable experience in a tough league.
Liverpool under 18's play Southend in the 5th round of the FA Youth Cup on Monday night at Anfield.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - The youngsters are looking really impressive so here's hoping for another great result from the youngsters.
Roy Hodgson has ben confirmed as the new manager of West Brom.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Glad to see him get a job so soon and I can only wish him all the best, still a good manager it just didn't work out with us.
Poulsen has revealed how a chat with Dalglish has kick started his career at Anfield.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - He just didn't look good enough for us but he has featured a lot since Kenny took over and he has played a lot better aswell.
Kuyt has tweeted his support to Jonjo Shelvey following his injury.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - So unlucky for Shelvey getting this injury as he was just starting to break into the 1st team. I wish him a speedy recovery.
Kenny Dalglish has insisted Raul Meireles goalscoring form is down to the players' hard work and talent.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - I think Kenny should be taking a lot of credit for Meireles and his goalscoring form, he is now playing in his best position.
Transfer Rumour - Liverpool are reportedly keen to sign Lille's striker Gervinho in the summer. The striker is valued at £10 million.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Another striker linked with us and which can't be bad. We could be doing with another.
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Glen Johnson spoke about his current role at left back and said "I'll play anywhere Kenny Dalglish wants me to play".
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Johnson has been playing really well down the left. Dalglish surprised me by playing Johnson on the left but it really seems to be working, also with the threat of Johnson being able to cut inside on his right foot.
Steve Clarke praised the players for their hard work since he has arrived.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Steve Clarke deserves alot of praise, he has been a great signing for the club and he deserves great credit in our recent change of fortunes.
Liverpool supporters voted for Raul Meireles' goal against Wolves as Liverpool's best goal in January.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Gets my vote as well, a superb strike and I'm sure we will see more like that from Meireles as he certainly has found his shooting boots.
3 Liverpool youngsters featured in England's under 19's 1-0 loss to Germany at Chesterfield on Tuesday night. Jack Robinson, Tom Ince and Conor Coady captained the side.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Great to see 3 of Liverpool's youngsters playing for England and Conor Coady captaining the side.
Transfer Rumour - Liverpool target Sylvain Marveaux is set to undergo groin surgery today and will miss the rest of the season for Rennes. Liverpool seem certain to make a move for the midfielder in the summer as he will then be a free agent.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - Marveaux seems very highly rated and it will be interesting to see if we get him. Good to hear rumours of us still trying to improve the team.
Transfer Rumour - Reports from Italy suggest Liverpool are chasing Napoli striker Ezequiel Lavezzi. Napoli fear losing the 25 year old in the summer.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - He has done well with Napoli this season helping them to near the top of the table and we could still do with another striker.
Transfer Rumour - Reports suggest Liverpool are keen on signing 19 year old midfielder Sergio Canales from Real Madrid, the youngster has failed to break into the first team this season and Liverpool could make a move in the summer.
THE LIVERWORD SAYS - I like the way we seem to be tracking a lot of youngstes in hope of bringing them to Anfield. It shows a real desire at the club in building for the future.
Monday, 7 February 2011
I can't remember a game so widely anticipated with so much hype and media attention in the build up to this match. Obviously brought about by the Fenrando Torres move from Liverpool to Chelsea last Monday. Apart from this added interest to the fixture it, it is always one of the key fixtures of the season. With both teams going into this game in good form made this hard to predict, although the bookmakers didn't give Liverpool much chance giving them odds as long as 5/1 at some bookmakers. Stamford Bridge hasn't been a a happy hunting ground over the years with only two victories in the league since 1990. But on the back of three wins and clean sheets on the bounce, there is a renewed confidence about this Liverpool side.
When I heard the Liverpool team I thought Dalglish was taking a gamble on the return of Carragher to the line-up since he has not played since dislocating his shoulder against Spurs on November 28th. The only other change to the side that beat Stoke midweek was Maxi coming in for Aurelio. Once again new signing Suarez had to start on the bench with Kuyt once again leading the front line.
After all the hype surrounding this match it was finally down to business. Torres started for Chelsea against his old employers of a week ago and the large travelling Liverpool support were letting him know their feelings. The game started with a nervous looking Maxi setting up former team mate Torres who fired a shot high and wide from long range. As the game settled down to a slow pace with Liverpool making it difficult for Chelsea to create, it took a while for the next opportunity to arrive, and it fell to Chelsea with Drogba skewing a shot wide from long range. Liverpool almost scored on 18 minutes when Carragher found Kuyt down the right but his cross failed to find an unmarked Meireles at the back post. Martin Skrtel then cut out a dangerous cross from Ashley Cole. Then Ivanovic glanced a header just wide from a corner as Chelsea looked for the opener. On 31 minutes came the chance Torres had been waiting for as he was sent clear with just Reina to beat but Janie Carragher got back to make a goal saving block as Torres shot at goal. Within a couple of minutes it was Liverpool on the attack as Gerrard whipped in a dangerous low cross which found Maxi at the back post but he could only prod the ball onto the bar from only 3 yards out with the goal gaping. The first half ended with Chelsea showing frustration when a Martin Kelly cross caused confusion between Cech and Ivanovic which almost resulted in fisticuffs.
The second half started with Liverpool going close from a shot by Johnson. Drogba and Anelka had the next chances as Liverpool's defence remained stubborn. Anelka again went close on 66 minutes when he shot narrowly wide as the Liverpool defence backed off. Just after that chance came the sight for all Liverpool fans to cheer, when Torres was substituted for Kalou. Essien shot just over the bar from long range just after this substitution. But it was Liverpool who took the lead on 68 minutes when Chelsea failed to clear a Gerrard cross which resulted in Meireles hooking the ball into the Chelsea net. Chelsea responded with substitute Malouda shooting low at Reina who blocked well. Liverpool almost made it two when substitute Aurelio's shot was saved by Cech. A late shout for a penalty when when Johnson looked guilty of a foul in the box but Liverpool escaped and held on for a tremendous win.
This was supposed to be scripted to be the Fernando show but Liverpool never read the script as they hardly gave the Spaniard a kick of the ball, the only real chance to score that he had was immediately thwarted by Carragher who was immense after returning from injury. With Liverpool having few options in attack with their two new signings seemingly not ready to start and Chelsea with a wealth of talent in their strikeforce it was going to be so difficult for Liverpool to achieve a result here. But what a great performance and another solid defensive display as Chelsea's strikeforce was kept at bay. You can really see there is a renewed confidence and togetherness in the team as results are proving. Another goal for Meireles as his scoring form continues. I thought Lucas was crucial in midfield as he protected the defence superbly and Gerrard was dangerous with crosses delivered. A tremendous day for Liverpool and their is a new spring in everybody connected to the club's step.
Man Of The Match - Carragher - Superb performance from return from injury and what a block when Torres looked like scoring
Thursday, 3 February 2011
After all the excitement of the last few days it was finally back to matters on the field. Liverpool with a sense of a new era starting after the departure of Torres and the new signings of Suarez and Carroll were looking forward to this match against Stoke. Liverpool going into the game with two wins in a row and looking to keep their recent good run going against a tough Stoke side who beat Liverpool in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. Going into the game Liverpool were sitting two points better off than Stoke in the league table and having a great home record against Stoke having won 13 of their last 14 meetings against them.
I wasn't expecting many changes to the team for this match but I was surprised by the line-up with Kenny making three changes to the side that beat Fulham last week. Kyrgiakos, Aurelio and Lucas were restored to the side which surprised me but made sense, starting with three centre backs in the side with Kyrgiakos alongside Skrtel and Agger would combat Stoke's airial threat especially from set pieces. Kuyt was pushed up front with new signing Suarez on the bench alongside fit again Carragher. Andy Carroll was not available as he is still recovering from injury.
A tremendous sense of anticipation around Anfield for this one with the hope that the faithful would see one of their new signings tonight. Liverpool started the game in a positive fashion and created the first chance in 5 minutes with a Kyrgiakos goalbound header being cleared off the line by Diao. Then Skrtel shot wide after winning possession on the edge of the Stoke box. Liverpool were passing and moving with a fluency that has not been witnessed much this season as there seems to be a new found confidence in the side. But Stoke were making it difficult for Liverpool to create many chances as they got numbers behind the ball quickly. On 30 minutes Gerrard burst into the box and was derailed by a block by Huth but Liverpool's appeals for a penalty were waved away. Huth was involved in the games only unsavoury incident when he appeared to jump in two footed to a challenge with Kelly but the referee saw nothing wrong with the challenge and didn't brandish any card. As the game approached the half Liverpool started to create more chances with Begovic making a brilliant point blank save from a powerful close range Johnson header after good work from Kelly down the right. Seconds later Kuyt glanced a Gerrard cross just wide of the far post, and it was Kuyt going close again as he hooked over the bar from close range. Kuyt seemed to be having all the chances and he went close again right on half time with a fierce shot from outside the box which Begovic did well to save after a good passing move involving Gerrard, Lucas and Aurelio. Liverpool playing well but frustrated going in at half time at 0-0 didn't have long to wait before making the breakthrough, with only 2 minutes into the second half Gerrard hit a long range free kick which eventually fell to Meireles 8 yards out and he smashed the ball past Begovic giving Liverpool a deserved lead. Liverpool dominated possession after taking the lead as their confidence grew but Carew reminded them that Stoke were not out of the match with a fierce shot from the edge of the box that went just wide of Reina's far post. Then in the 63rd minute the sight all Liverpool fans had been waiting for, the introduction of Luis Suarez for Aurelio who recieved a tremendous reception from the crowd, and it was a dream debut for the new number 7 as he ended the match as a contest in the 79th minute when Kuyt sent him clear, Suarez then rounded Begovic before sliding the ball towards goal, Wilkinson's attempted clearance could not prevent Suarez notching a debut goal. It capped off a fine win and performance from Liverpool.
Another great win for Liverpool as the confidence grows in the team with every game under Kenny's influence. A clever team selection from Dalglish by playing three centre backs to combat Stoke's danger from set-pieces. Also a good move bringing Aurelio into the middle of the park with Lucas giving license for Johnson, Kelly,Gerrard and Meireles to push forward. Kenny's tactics were spot on and Stoke never threatened Reina's goal. I haven't seen a Liverpool side pass as well as this for some time it really was great to watch, Meireles and Gerrard driving forward with Kelly and Johnson driving down the flanks gave us so many attacking options. Kuyt had a tremendous match up front and deserved a goal for his persistence. Huth should have seen red for his tackle on Kelly but thankfully Kelly never recieved an injury from the tackle as it was dangerous. The Liverpool defence was solid as a rock as they kept another clean sheet, their third in a row. A tremendous night was capped off by the welcome of Luis Suarez and to grab a debut goal was the icing on the cake. A great night all round, now our attention can turn to puting Torres in his place on Sunday.
Man Of The Match - Gerrard - I thought there was many contenders on the night as it was a great team performance, Meireles and Kuyt for me worth a special mention, but I go for Gerrard as I thought his passing and driving runs were more like his old self as he looks to be enjoying his football again under Dalglish's guidance.
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Well after the hectic last few days its good to be back to playing football tonight, with Stoke City at home. So much has went on since our last game and it feels like a dawn of a new era in many ways with the departure of Fernando Torres to Chelsea and the arrivals of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, it really does give us a totally different looking attack, but an exciting one at that. Unfortunately for us tonight with the news that Carroll won't feature as he has a thigh injury. But great news that Luis Suarez is included in the squad and may feature tonight. I don't think Jamie Carragher will return to the side tonight, although Kenny Dalglish did mention that he will be in the squad for the Stoke game. It will be a very tough match for Liverpool tonight with Stoke looking to do the double over us. Stoke with their physical approach and their obvious danger from set pieces will mean that the Liverpool defence will need to be strong. I'm sure there will be a tremendous atmosphere at Anfield tonight after the last weeks excitement and I'm sure the supporters will play a huge part in proceedings. I don't expect many changes to the team tonight although there has to be at least one with Torres away. So I predict the team for tonight to be -
Goalkeeper - Reina
Right Back - Kelly
Left Back - Johnson
Centre Back - Skrtel
Centre Back - Agger
Centre Midfield (Holding Role) - Lucas
Centre Midfield - Gerrard
Centre Midfield (Attacking Role) - Meireles
Left Midfield - Maxi
Right Midfield - Kuyt
Striker - Suarez
Prediction - Liverpool 2 Stoke City 0
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Well what a day yesterday was as I try to recover as I write this article, what an emotional rollercoaster of a day it was. It all kicked off for me on the Friday night with the shocking news that our talisman Fernando Torres handed in a transfer request to the club after Chelsea had made an offer for him. Especially when hours earlier we had recieved the great news that Ajax and Liverpool had agreed on a deal to bring Luis Suarez to Anfield. From getting such a high from the Suarez news to getting such a low from the Torres news was just typical of the season we have had with more lows than highs to be fair though.
Friday night really started the mayhem that yesterday was to bring. Would Torres stay or would he go, deep down I thought that was him gone especially after handing in a transfer request. Monday started off with Torres reporting for training as usual with a mass number of reporters camped outside Melwood waiting for any news on his departure to Chelsea. Kenny Dalglish gave a press conference in the morning being as evasive as ever to the media as he gave very little away. We heard that Paul Konchesky went on loan to Nottingham Forest until the end of the season, which I believe will be a good move for him as I don't think he will get much game time with Dalglish in charge. Liverpool agreed a loan deal with Coventry City for their young central midfielder Conor Thomas coming to Liverpool until the rest of the season. Thomas will be based with the reserves at the Academy. Great to see Liverpool building for the future with the signing of another youngster who has represented England at under 17 level.
Then after lunch came the news that Torres had left Liverpool and was on his way to London and Liverpool had a bid for Newcastle's Andy Carroll turned down. As the afternoon wore on there was so much speculation with Torres and Andy Carroll, but it seemed everything was going to depend on Torres signing, but Liverpool made a bid of £35 million for Carroll which was accepted and then it was getting him over to Liverpool as soon as possible. Rumours of Liverpool trying to sign Blackpool's captain Charlie Adam escalated as the evening wore on too, but at the end of the day Liverpool missed out on Adam. The Suarez deal was finally confirmed in the evening and the Torres and Carroll deals were just finalised minutes before the transfer window slammed shut.
To lose a player like Torres is a massive loss to any club and especially to a rival club, I was very disappointed in Torres with his timing of wanting away just after recieving the news that Suarez was coming to Anfield. I thought he could have gave us the rest of the season. If Torres had wanted to go to Spain then I could understand but to go to Chelsea who are an ageing team with not much history, not a great support has me left scratching my head on his decision. But with the Torres leaving I felt it was paramount on us bringing another striker in, ok we had Suarez coming in but it still only left us with one main striker, so I applaud Kenny and the owners for moving swiftly in bringing Andy Carroll to Liverpool. Yes I think we paid over the price for Carroll but you have to do that sometimes if you really want something and Newcastle new we had cash to burn with the money from Torres coming in. It is a gamble the signing of Carroll too as he is very young and not an established striker yet, but he has so much potential and the prospect of Carroll and Suarez is mouthwatering bringing back memories of the Keegan and Toshack partnership, if they do half as well as them then we will be very happy. So yes we have lost a world class player who didn't want to play for us anymore, but we have brought in two potentially great strikers who are still very young and I think this could be the beginning of a new era for Liverpool and I am very excited about the rest of the season.