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Monday, 30 January 2012
Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United Match Report
The games are coming thick and fast right now for Liverpool Football Club and in what has been a pivotal week in shaping Liverpool’s season. With a trip to Wembley in the Carling Cup Final to look forward to after seeing off Manchester City on Wednesday, Liverpool now faced bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield in the 4th round of the FA Cup. Liverpool lost to United at Old Trafford in last season’s FA Cup in Dalglish’s first match in charge on his return to Liverpool as manager. This would also be the first time the sides have met since the Evra, Suarez case which would add to the interest of this fixture.
Dalglish made 4 changes from the side that played against Manchester City on Wednesday night, with Carragher coming back into the side in a holding midfield role on his 34th birthday, also coming into the team were Martin Kelly, Andy Carroll and Maxi in place of Adam, Johnson, Kuyt and Craig Bellamy. It had a more defensive look to the team than what lined up against Manchester City, but with good attacking options on the bench.
As per usual there was a red hot atmosphere inside Anfield for this fixture as the game kicked off. The game started with both teams sparring for possession. Maxi tested De Gea early with a stinging shot that the United stopper dealt with.
United responded, with Giggs volleying straight at Reina from the edge of the box. As the game settled down, it was United who were having the lion’s share of possession with Scholes instrumental in midfield as he dictated the play as Liverpool sat deep looking to hit the visitors on the break. But in the 21st minute Liverpool took the lead when Agger headed in a Gerrard corner with De Gae caught out of position. Bouyed by taking the lead, Gerrard then shot over the bar after a trademark surging run by the Liverpool skipper.
But United drew level after Rafael surged past Enrique before cutting the ball back to Park who fired low past Reina silencing the Kop. Both teams went in level at half-time with everything to play for in the second half.
The second half started in similar style to the opening of the first half in cagey fashion. Liverpool had a shout for a penalty when Smalling fell on the ball, but referee Halsey waved away the appeals. Then Martin Skrtel saved Liverpool after Wellbeck got the ball past Reina on the edge of the box, before Skrtel managed to intervene.
Dalglish made a double substitution with Kuyt and Adam coming on to replace Maxi and Carragher as Liverpool looked to win the game in the latter stages. Gerrard forced a save from De Gea with a curling free-kick before leaving the field to be replaced by Craig Bellamy.
Liverpool pressed for a winner in the last 10 minutes and they got their reward with two minutes remaining when Kuyt fired past De Gea after Andy Carroll had flicked on a long clearance by Reina, sending the Kop wild with delight. Liverpool could have scored a third when Carroll headed against the upright before Kuyt fired the rebound wide. Liverpool held on to win, ending a perfect week for Dalglish’s team and plenty to look forward to in the remainder of the season.
I was amazed by Kenny’s team selection and thought he got it wrong but maybe that is why I am writing this and he is the manager of Liverpool. The team looked very defensive and I was worried that Carroll would be left isolated. United had most of the possession without threatening as Liverpool looked to hit on the break with Carragher protecting the defence. Liverpool scoring the first goal was very important and was not affected by losing the equaliser before half-time. Dalglish’s plan worked perfectly as he made attacking substitutions in the second half and pressed United back. A great time to score a winner by Kuyt with only minutes remaining. Liverpool’s defence was brilliant once again, limiting United to very few chances and Andy Carroll led the front line effectively as he worked superbly for the team. A great week for Liverpool, progressing in two cup competitions.
Man Of The Match – Skrtel – another superb performance by the big man. He really is improving all the time and has become one of our most consistent performers this season.
Posted by james walker at 07:36
Friday, 27 January 2012
Another trial by the FA
Liverpool’s FA Cup 4th round clash at Anfield against Manchester United tomorrow puts Liverpool Football Club in the spotlight once again. With the rivalry of the two clubs it is always an explosive fixture, but this time it could be really nasty after the recent case involving Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez.
Suarez won’t be able to play in the match as he is currently serving an 8 match ban for making “racist” remarks to Evra, but Liverpool’s constant backing and defence of their star player has shown everyone that the club are not happy with the decision made by the FA. This is probably the last draw the FA could have hoped for when the draw was made.
Liverpool has accepted the FA’s decision without appeal against the 8 match ban, but by backing Suarez they are obviously accepting the decision through gritted teeth. The recent problem with a fan at the Oldham match has not helped Liverpool in their stance against racism, and the club will be under the spotlight against Manchester United.
I fear Liverpool could get into serious trouble if any player or fan steps out of line tomorrow by abusing Evra. It is such a volatile situation the club find themselves in and everyone I hear on the radio and in the papers seem to be blaming Liverpool and asking for Kenny or Liverpool Legends to come out and diffuse the situation.
OK it is a Liverpool player who has been judged to be guilty and Liverpool should have to deal with the situation. But this situation is such an awkward one for everyone involved, considering the rivalry between the two clubs and I think the FA should step in to advise Sir Alex not to play Evra in this match, because he has been the other player directly involved in this awkward, sensitive and unusual case. With Suarez already banned from the match, this leaves Evra as a prime target which I fear could get ugly.
Why should Manchester United suffer and be forced to leave one of their best players out of one of the most important matches of the season. Evra has been the victim so why should he suffer if he feels prepared to play.
The blame is with Liverpool Football Club so they have to get on with it and woe be tide anyone stepping out of line. So if there is a bloodbath tomorrow all the blame will lie with Liverpool and the book will be thrown at them, and the FA will feel no guilt, when they have the authority to prevent this happening by preventing Evra from playing.
Liverpool supporters are some of the best supporters in the world and I am not saying for a minute that trouble will happen, but there is big chance it could with feelings running very high. Every shout from a spectator and every tackle from a player on Evra is going to be scrutinised and Liverpool will be on trial by the World’s media as they will flock like vultures waiting for a piece of controversy.
If Sir Alex Ferguson had any sense and want the match to be concentrated on football, then he would leave Evra out. But Ferguson will love this situation and he knows Liverpool players, supporters and the whole club will be on trial and he will make it is as awkward as possible by playing Evra who could thrive on this and possibly cause more trouble. But Ferguson should have the decision to play Evra made for him by the FA.
I also think the FA should advise both clubs not to play Evra and Suarez in the League match that is coming up soon at Old Trafford, so that tensions can ease a little between the two clubs. I don’t expect the FA to step in as they put Liverpool on trial again. I just fear Liverpool could lose a lot more than just a Cup tie. But if things turn nasty don’t go blaming Liverpool or Manchester United, lay your blame with the FA, but you can be sure they won’t be found guilty.
Posted by james walker at 10:42
Thursday, 26 January 2012
Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City Match Report
Liverpool went into this Carling Cup second leg tie with a slender one goal advantage after their gritty performance in Manchester a fortnight ago. Liverpool would be hoping to finish of the job at a packed Anfield, as they hoped to return to Wembley for the first time since 1996, and get to their first major final since 2007. Dalglish would be hoping for a response from his team after publicly criticising his players after their poor performance against Bolton at the weekend.
Dalglish made two changes to the side that lost at Bolton with Dirk Kuyt and Stewart Downing returning to the side in place of Andy Carroll and Maxi. With Jay Spearing still recovering from injury, Gerrard and Adam once again were paired in the middle of midfield. But Liverpool had an attacking looking about their team, especially with a draw being good enough to take them to Wembley.
Anfield was packed and the atmosphere before kick-off was reminiscent of those famous European nights. Liverpool started the match with intent on adding to their one goal aggregate lead, and inside four minutes they almost scored when Enrique had a shot saved by the right leg of Joe Hart with the rebound smashed wide by Downing.
Moments later Charlie Adam had a right foot rocket well saved by Hart low to his left. City tried to respond to Liverpool’s early onslaught but Nasri’s effort was wayward. The lively Bellamy brought out another save from Hart after scampering past the nervy Savic. With Liverpool on top and looking the more dangerous it was City who scored first when De Jong’s long range effort ended up in the top corner, stunning the Kop.
But Liverpool responded brilliantly after this setback and they soon equalised when Richards’ block on Agger’s shot was handled and referee Dowd pointed to the spot. Steven Gerrard converted the penalty as Anfield erupted with delight. Both teams went in at the half with Liverpool still holding a one goal advantage.
Liverpool started the second half the way they started the first with Kuyt bringing out another save from Hart early on. But then Joe Hart brought out the save of the match with a brilliant fingertip save from a prodded Skrtel effort. Joe Hart was playing a blinder and he made another great save blocking Stewart Downing’s back-post volley.
But just like the first half Liverpool were stunned when Dzeko tapped in tapped in a brilliant Kolarov whipped cross from close range in the 67th minute. But Liverpool looked hungry to get to Wembley and they equalised in the 74th minute to gain the aggregate advantage when Bellamy finished off a terrific move involving Kuyt and Johnson.
City tried to respond as they pinned Liverpool back in the closing stages, but Liverpool stood firm and City never really got a clear chance as Liverpool celebrated at the end overjoyed at the thought of ending their long wait to return to Wembley.
A tremendous night for everyone connected with Liverpool to reach Wembley for the first time since 1996. I was very pleased with Kenny’s team selection by playing Kuyt and Bellamy who give great movement. The hunger shown by the whole team was impressive after such a disappointment at Bolton. Kenny couldn’t have wished for a better response from his players. If it wasn’t for Joe Hart it would have been a lot more comfortable. Some big performances with Charlie Adam having a very good match, as I have felt he has been struggling in recent games. Dirk Kuyt gave so much to the team and great selection by Kenny to play him. Stewart Downing was very good and he looks far better on the left linking up with Enrique. Bellamy was just everywhere, amazing performance. City should have got a penalty when Adam caught Dzeko in the first half, but the referee was behind the incident and never got a good view. Liverpool got lucky with the penalty but so glad we got it. Great for Liverpool to get back to a cup final, and even better with it being at Wembley.
Man Of The Match – Bellamy – one of the best individual performances at Anfield by a Liverpool player in a long time. Brilliantly taken goal too.
Posted by james walker at 04:40
Wednesday, 25 January 2012
The Forgotten Man Of Anfield
Dirk Kuyt has been such a big player for Liverpool in recent years, with his tireless work rate and his knack of scoring vital goals in big matches, he really has been so important to Liverpool. But this season he has struggled to get a game. Obviously there were going to be changes to the team this season with the amount of summer signings, and Kuyt has suffered more than most because of this.
Kuyt has mostly been used on the right side of midfield in recent years and with Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson arriving in big money buys, then Kuyt has had to make way for them. Henderson has played a lot of matches on the right side of midfield this season, but in recent games Downing has featured on the right, although he is a left footed player.
Dirk Kuyt can also play up front, as he was signed as a striker in the first place, but Liverpool have preferred to use him on the right of midfield. Kuyt has played a few games up front this season but with the likes of Carroll, Suarez and Bellamy, he has been used sparingly.
Kuyt finished last season as Liverpool’s top goal scorer and he must have felt that he would continue as one the team’s most important players. But unfortunately he has struggled to feature. Kuyt is now 31 years of age and he must be wondering what his future holds as he is finding himself not a regular for the first time in his Liverpool career.
Although Kuyt had a terrific season last season, I worried that he might find it difficult to feature this season because of the new signings. But as the season has rolled on, I think Kenny should bring him back in to the team. With Andy Carroll struggling for form and Luis Suarez still suspended I think Kenny should be playing Kuyt up front alongside Craig Bellamy right now, and even when Suarez comes back from suspension I would put Kuyt on the right side of midfield and shift Downing back over to the left of midfield, where I think Downing has looked at his best linking up with Enrique. I prefer Henderson playing in the middle as I have not been too impressed with him on the right.
I am not touting Kuyt as the best player in the world and he does have his weaknesses, like his passing and his first touch can be poor at times, but I just feel he brings so much energy to the team and inspires other players to work harder too.
But Kenny is the man who makes the decisions and it is far more difficult for him to select his team this season as his squad is certainly stronger and you can’t play everyone. But I can’t understand why Kuyt with all his experience is the man to be left out. It really is looking like Kuyt is the forgotten man of Anfield as Dalglish looks to build his own team. I hope Kenny appreciates Kuyt in the remainder of the season.
Posted by james walker at 03:28
Sunday, 22 January 2012
Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Liverpool Match Report
Liverpool travelled to Bolton in search of their first league win of the New Year. Bolton have had a tough first half of the season as they languish near the bottom of the table, but they have picked up in recent weeks. Liverpool have had a good recent record at the Reebok Stadium looking for their 5th consecutive win at the venue and hoping to keep in the chase for a top four place.
Dalglish made four changes to the team that drew with Stoke last weekend, with Bellamy, Carroll, Agger and Maxi returning to the team as Liverpool looked to continue their good away form. The defence had a familiar look to it with Agger returning alongside Johnson, Skrtel and Enrique. Adam partnered Gerrard in the middle of midfield with Maxi and Henderson alongside them. Bellamy would support Andy Carroll up front.
Liverpool looked shaky from the start and they were rocked in the 4th minute when Bolton took the lead when Davies ran right through the heart of the Liverpool defence before stabbing a low effort into the bottom corner.
Moments later Eagles muscled past Enrique before shooting right across the face of goal as Liverpool struggled to cope with Bolton’s bright start. Then Maxi handled a long clearance from Reina as he tried to control. Bellamy and Henderson had efforts blocked as Liverpool tried to respond.
Liverpool had a shout for a penalty when an Adam free-kick ended up hitting Knight on the hand but referee Friend waved away the appeals. But Liverpool fell further behind when Reo-Coker fired passed Reina after a pass from Eagles.
Liverpool responded in the 38th minute when Carroll flicked on a long ball to Bellamy who ran through on goal before chipping the ball past the advancing Bogdan to give Liverpool hope. With Liverpool down 2-1 at the half Dalglish would be hoping for better in the second half.
But in the 5th minute of the second half Bolton took a 3-1 lead when Steinsson smashed a volley low into the Liverpool net after a Wheater knock down from a corner. Dalglish brought on Kuyt and Downing as he hoped for a comeback but the closest the visitors came to goal was a long range effort from Agger which hit the top of the crossbar. It was a very disappointing day for Liverpool as they were well beat.
It was a very disappointing result and performance from Liverpool against a Bolton side who has been struggling this season. I couldn’t fault Dalglish’s team selection, and I was pleased to see Maxi return to the team. The poorest performance by far this season and the defence was terrible considering how strong they have been all season. League results need to pick up quickly or fourth spot will be a pipe dream.
Man Of The Match – Bellamy - played well, scored a good goal, always shows a fighting spirit.
Posted by james walker at 18:18