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Match Preview: Manchester City vs Liverpool (26.12.13)

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…

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Match Preview: Liverpool vs Norwich City (04.12.13)

              After the disaster last Sunday, we welcome two consecutive home games in which, again against lowly opposition, hopefully we can salvage our good start to the season and return to form. The first of these fixtures is against Norwich City, currently situated in 14th place in the table. Norwich won their last game against Crystal Palace though their away form this season has been particularly poor, with them winning only once on their travels.In contrast, Liverpool have turned Anfield back into a fortress and have only the one loss to record there (against Southampton). Norwich have a very leaky defence, the third leakiest in the league and even with Daniel Sturridge missing, there should be no excuse for Liverpool not to apply a lot of pressure in attack. Luis Suarez is a big fan of this fixture having scored 7 goals in 4 matches against the Canaries. In the history of the Premiership Liverpool have never lost to Norwich and have seven wins out of eight. Under manager Chris Hughton, Norwich have won only 3 away games in 25. There are a few players missing for Norwich. Midfielders Anthony Pilkington and Robert Snodgrass are out, while club-record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel won’t be returning until next week. Liverpool have a more fuller squad. Maybe the returning Iago Aspas will get a chance from the bench at some stage. It is likely that the dropped Daniel Agger will come back in for Kolo Toure in central defence. Philippe Coutinho could be a foil for the lone striker Suarez and possibly Victor Moses will take up a position on the wing? I think that Victor Moses was lame against Hull and maybe Brendan Rodgers will use this game as an opportunity to give Iago Aspas or Luis Alberto a rare start? The chopping and changing of our central defenders is a weakness in my eyes this season. We are really shedding goals of late and Norwich aren’t too bad in attack. Ahead of some difficult Christmas fixtures against Chelsea, Tottenham and Man City, we need to build stability at the back and rotation should be seen as a dirty word. The Kop will be expecting a comfortable result this evening and let’s hope that the Hull disaster was just a blip. Two home games against low-riders should be an easy six points and we can…

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Match Preview: Liverpool vs Crystal Palace (05.10.13)

            Last time out at Anfield, Liverpool gave a disappointing performance and slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Southampton.We turned the corner in out mini-crisis, however, and beat Sunderland away last week, to take up second place in the league. Here, we return to a home fixture against minnow opposition. Crystal Palace are languishing in the drop-zone already, just above Sunderland in 19th place, with one win and five losses. When you look ahead to fixtures, it’s the eye-catching ones which excite supporters. The matches against the top four sides, the Merseyside derby, the Man United games. These games, for Liverpool, generally cause few problems. We always step it up for the big occasions and usually succeed in bagging all the points on offer. Nowadays, I see the likes of Crystal Palace at home in the fixture list, and whereas, looking at the league standings, it should be an easy three points, for Liverpool, we always seem to struggle against the hackers that fight it out at the bottom of the division. I think that with Liverpool being such a huge club historically, sides like Palace, who are not as accustomed to Premiership ways, really try to perform and shine in front of our passionate football loving supporters. Games in the atmosphere of Anfield bring out the best in the opposition. It is like stepping out at Wembley for them. They bring their A-game, and also their mainly physical styles don’t suit us very well. We like beautiful football, passing and movement. When you are facing rough aerial challenges and hoofed long-balls from the back for ninety minutes, it takes its toll on the players, and slips in defence are more likely to occur. Injuries and suspensions mean that Liverpool will be flexing their squad for the game. Lucas Leiva is a critical non-starter, on a one-match ban for accumulation of yellow cards. It seems a little early in the season for this to happen, and our Brazilian starlet should perhaps pay more attention to his discipline when he returns. Lucas’ natural replacement, Joe Allen, is still out injured with his hamstring. Obviously, Coutinho and Johnson, are still in recovery and Cissokho also misses out. Sebastien Coates has picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury on international duty so is another long term absentee. Rodgers is likely to turn to Jordan Henderson as cover for…

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Match Report: Liverpool vs Southampton (21.09.13) L 0-1

Liverpool started the game with four centre halves. Agger and Skrtel in the middle and Sakho and Toure as left back and right back. Enrique was declared injured but still remained on the substitute bench. The 4 centre halves made us look a bit week on the flanks, with Sakho certainly having a shaky start. We won a free kick early on, in a good position, with Gerrard really pushing Southampton keeper, Boruc, into a good save. Victor Moses looked sharp, though maybe a little bit lightweight. Iago Aspas filled in in Coutinho’s usual position. Perhaps the biggest talking point of the first half was when Sturridge was clearly fouled as he moved into the right side of the box, Anfield Road end. He was brought down and appealed to the referee but no decision was given. Liverpool had 6 shots compared witH Southampton’s 4.. Liverpool dominated possession, having 56.4% of the ball, making it a first half in their favour. Half time 0-0 and Liverpool should maybe feel aggrieved that they haven’t broken the deadline. The second half started with Southampton putting Liverpool under a lot more pressure. Defender Dejan Lovren connected to a cross in the box and despite Gerrard’s best goal-line efforts, a goal was conceded. Enrique was brought off the bench as Agger made way, perhaps an attempt to cure our weak looking defence situation. Gerrard was unlucky again from a decently positioned free kick on the edge of the Saints’ box. Southampton continued to look like they had five more players on the pitch than the Reds. Luke Shaw moved persuasively into the box and force Mignolet into a spectacular triple save, the Saints denied a two goal lead. It was hoped that Luis Alberto would help out as we chased the game and he came on for Skrtel, with Rodgers tinkering with the defence even more. Henderson seemed to move back to right back. Gerrard wasn’t really leading by example today, making several costly mistakes in possession by trying over-complicated balls that were misplaced. When Gerrard doesn’t play well, it affects the team as a whole. The match dragged on to full time as a 1-0 defeat. We never really looked like threatening and our passes were everywhere. All in all a poor performance. I think that tactically we got today’s game all wrong, maybe the international break has disrupted our pattern or the…

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Match Preview: Liverpool vs Southampton (21.09.13)

            Liverpool vs Southampton, 21st September 2013 Liverpool return to Anfield for a 3pm Saturday fixture, that, on paper, looks a lot more winnable than last time out’s draw away at Swansea. However, The Saints have proved a stumbling block to the Redmen in recent years, with Southampton winning four out of the last six clashes between us, though most of those points won have been at their own ground. Last season the corresponding fixture finished in a 1-0 Liverpool victory. Southampton, though, at St Mary’s, were the last premiership side to inflict defeat upon Liverpool after they totally outplayed us there and won 3-1. Southampton are currently 11th in the league with 5 points out of a possible twelve, having won one, lost one and drawn two. To be fair it’s a relatively good start. They finished 14th in the Premiership last season so they are performing above average at present. Liverpool are, of course, perched back where they belong, at the top of the league with ten points, 3 wins and one draw. Both teams have only conceded 2 goals so a low-scoring match today looks likely as both have mean defences. Daniel Sturridge will look forward today to adding to his goals tally and if he does score it will be the fifth consecutive Premiership game in which he has done so. Daniel Agger will be back ready for selection after missing last Monday’s fixture against Swansea with a side strain. Whether Sakho, Toure or Skrtel will fill in in central defence next to him will be a tricky decision for Brendan Rodgers to make. Our key star winger, Philippe Coutinho, is out for several weeks with his shoulder injury, so it looks likely that either new boy Iago Aspas or Raheem Sterling will be called up for duties to replace him. This will be the last match left for Luis Suarez’s ban so he will be back ready for selection as of the next game. The Saints have left back Danny Fox missing due to injury. It will probably be a fairly tight game, though with Liverpool’s good start to the season and Sturridge’s blinding form, I predict a victory and thee points to extend Liverpool’s early dominance at the top of the league. The match kicks off at 3pm and isn’t being televised live in the UK so you’ll have…

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Match Report: Swansea City vs Liverpool (16.09.13) D 2-2

Well, it was an explosive start to the game with Shelvey proving how keen he was to show the Reds they had made a mistake in selling him during the summer transfer window. Shelvey scored in the first minute with a well-taken goal which left Liverpool newcomer, Sakho, in the shade, his premiership baptism not going particularly well. Shelvey, however, was no saviour for Swansea, as only minutes later he inadvertedly gave an easy back pass to Daniel Sturridge, whose on fire goalscoring record allowed him to suitably capitalise on his former teammate’s mistake. It was 1-1. The first half was pretty evenly balanced in terms of possession, with good passing from both teams and end-to-end action. Mignolet made a noticeable save, Skrtel made a critical last ditch goal-line tackle, and Sturridge was unlucky not to score after a perfect Victor Moses cross. Another debutant, Victor Moses was showing his strength down the wing, and he cropped up to score a beautiful goal just before half time. Liverpool went into the interval a goal to the good with the score standing at 2-1. The second half lacked some of the vigour of the first. Coutinho picked up a nasty shoulder injury and was substituted for Iago Aspas. A key player missing no doubt for a while. Shelvey continued his keenness to prove his worth to his new club and was rewarded by setting up the very dangerous Michu, who banged in Swansea’s second goal, making it 2-2. Liverpool threatened the goal far less in the second half and it was frustrating not being able to round off a fourth consecutive victory. Mignolet has a good game overall and made some decent contributions in keeping the Swans out, but he’ll be disappointed to have lost his 100% record of clean sheets. The final whistle came after a good five minutes of injury time and a draw and one point was all that Liverpool could take. Still, Swansea isn’t the easiest of places to go in the Premiership and get a result. We aren’t going to march through the season winning every game. We have to be satisfied with the away point. It places us back at the top of the league, after four games, a point separating us from Arsenal and Tottenham. A home game against Southampton on Saturday could prove a lot easier than tonight’s fixture. Gerrard The Red’s Man…

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