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LIVER BIRD – Lovren Misses Peno As Reds Are Knocked Out

View image | gettyimages.comIt was a long old game for Liverpool on Thursday evening as they traipsed through 120 minutes of football only to crash out of the Europa League with the final kick of the game as Dejan Lovren failed to convert the Reds’ all important fifth penalty.It was a frustrating game to say the least and so this match report may not follow a usually strategic structure.The first thing to note about the game, apart from the deafening noise from the Besiktas fans was the extremely attacking line up deployed by Brendan Rodgers. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing, as a big fan of Balotelli and somebody who would like to see him be given a real chance in a front two, I was very pleased to see him paired with Sturridge. Not only this but Jordan Ibe and Raheem Sterling were also starting.The issue though was that there were key names missing from midfield that I would prefer to see in a line up with those previously mentioned attacking players. As the match went on it became more and more apparent that we were missing some balance and would have benefitted from Jordan Henderson and/or Lucas Leiva in that line up in my opnion.However, Liverpool had injuries and this also had an effect on the defensive set up with Dejan Lovren gaining a start whilst Kolo Toure took the place of Emre Can who moved into midfield.The game was very dire to watch. I hate using the term “scrappy” to describe football matches but that’s exactly what it was. Tackles were flying in all over the place and Liverpool were struggling to maintain possession in midfield.Mario Balotelli had perhaps the best performance of the first half. Yes he got booked for a bit of a silly challenge but he showed discipline and did not draw any real attention from the referee again. For those who continue to protest that he doesn’t “try” or “move” as an excuse to justify their dislike of him, they must have been searching for another reason last night because most would agree that Balotelli was the only one creating anything.A few of his balls through to the likes of Sterling and Sturridge could have almost caused havoc if only the latter two had passed the ball or struck first time.Of course though, this is Mario Balotelli, we can’t possibly allow him to play 90 minutes of football or let him start to gain pride in his performance, oh no. Brendan Rodgers was inevitably going to sub perhaps our best player off but the fact that he didn’t even acknowledge Balotelli when he left the field? It’s just embarrassing.So, on went the second half with little to nothing to write home about for Liverpool, instead Besiktas grew and grew in confidence and at 71 minutes the Turkish side had found the back of the net. It was a stunning strike from substitute Tolgay Arslan and the home side deserved to be in the lead.It looked like a massive hill to climb for Liverpool from here and out and it sure was. Extra time despite some fresh legs on the pitch meant little to the Reds who had ran out of ideas very early on.And so we went to penalties. I can’t be bothered to analyse the first eight because thankfully they were all very good spot kicks. Tolgay Arslan scored Besiktas’ fifth and the ninth of the evening but then the real craziness started.It’s the deciding penalty so who steps up? Dejan Lovren.Now I’m not Lovren’s biggest fan by any means, I didn’t even really want to sign him, I just think he’s an average defender, however he has taken the decision to step up for the peno. The real problem here is why has he gone up for the fifth spot kick. Whatever the outcome is, it’s pathetic either way in my opinion.Either, Brendan Rodgers has chosen him as fifth penalty taker which is just ridiculous OR Raheem Sterling has bottled it or another player “didn’t fancy it” and so he’s took the decision as a team player to go for it.Dejan of course skied his penalty and to be honest he should have done better but he musn’t feel too down because if we didn’t play such a load of shite for 120 minutes we wouldn’t have been in that position.The sooner we forget about that game the better in my opinion and thankfully we have Manchester City on Sunday, the excitement for that should help us forget about a disappointing night at the Ataturk.Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

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LIVER BIRD – Sturridge Hits The Ground Running

Liverpool notched up a 2-0 win over West Ham on Saturday as youngster Raheem Sterling found the back of the net followed by a returning Daniel Sturridge. The long awaited return of the number 15 could not have been more perfect, a standing ovation as he prepared to enter play on the touchline was quickly followed by rapturous celebration as he found Liverpool’s second goal of the game in style.The first half for Liverpool was not brilliant in all honesty. The Reds were creating a lot of movement and West Ham offered little threat however we couldn’t seem to find that final killer ball. Breaks from the likes of Coutinho and Sterling almost had the Hammers in knots particularly after a link up early on between these two.A lovely back heel from Sterling fell for Philippe Coutinho, squaring up for the shot it looked like the perfect chance to take the lead however the Brazilian was denied by Adrian.Another incident in the first half involving Sterling occurred when he appeared to have been taken down in the box. The ball however remained in the danger zone and this time it was Lazar Markovic in a dangerous position. Lazar however should have done a lot better and completely fluffed his shot sending the ball wide.Things would improve for the Reds in the second half when after just five minutes Raheem Sterling finally found the back of the net. A cross from Alberto Moreno found its way to Sterling who laid the ball back to Coutinho, his teammate then fed the ball back to Sterling and with a confident finish the Reds were 1-0 up.It was a well deserved goal for Sterling who as always had been our most effective player.West Ham continued to struggle in the second half and it was possibly understandable considering the injury worries that were being created within this game for them. Things were difficult from the whistle for the visitors and it just got worse as the game went on.A shot from Valencia soon after Liverpool’s first goal was one of few chances for the Hammers and it wouldn’t be long before they were punished again by the Reds.Just before the 70 minute mark and having only been on the pitch for 10 minutes Daniel Sturridge decided it was time to let everybody know that he was back. Another break involving the brilliant Coutinho allowed him to play a ball out to Daniel Sturridge who was on the right side of the box. Oozing confidence Sturridge then took his chance from a tight angle and finished beautifully to score Liverpool’s second and secure the Reds all three points.It was absolutely fantastic to see Sturridge back but to see him score as well? Bloody brilliant! I was concerned that it might take a while for him to find his feet and get back to scoring ways which can then create all sorts of problems confidence wise for a striker but he seemed destined to score as soon as he entered play on Saturday. Oh and I cannot explain how happy I am to see us playing with a proper striker! We look a totally different team with him in it.Late on for West Ham it looked as though they may have found a consolation goal when a ball was turned into the back of the net after a corner. The referee however decided that Simon Mignolet had been fouled and therefore the goal was not given.I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:@LFCKirstyLFC Hammers got nailed.— Elliott Whattingham (@EWhattingham) February 1, 2015 @_TheLiverBird Sterling absolute class. Sakho is vital to the back four. Nice to see a win without reliance on gerrard— Brian LFC (@jagusak) January 31, 2015 @LFCKirstyLFC the importance of Sakho and Lucas are the ying to Sterling and Coutinho’s yang— Lucas Mathew (@TheBlink44) January 31, 2015 Next up for Liverpool is Bolton in the FA Cup.Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

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LIVER BIRD – Reds Pile On Pressure But Game Ends In Draw

Liverpool put on an inspired performance against a monotonous Chelsea on Tuesday night as the Reds looked to get the best start possible in their League Cup semi final. With Jose Mourinho clearly setting up his side with buses in mind, the away side did nothing the whole game aside from net a peno. Liverpool deserved a win but they just couldn’t quite find another goal and being clinical in front of goal was once again a problem, this time, the only problem.As the game kicked off with the last line of our anthem still ringing around Anfield, it was clear this was going to be an electric atmosphere. Brendan’s side burst out the blocks and immediately caused issues for a Chelsea side containing stars such as Hazard and Costa. Admired for their attacking abilities it was evident that they wouldn’t necessarily be on display tonight as Jose Mourinho opted once again to play the dreary negative football he is always so quick to criticise.Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite a big fan of a tactically sound defensive performance, it’s one of the reasons I have an interest in Italian football (more so older calcio) but when it’s Mourinho playing it, it just riles me up.With the Reds piling on the pressure almost constantly it definitely felt like we were in the ascendancy, surely we would find a goal?But we didn’t. Instead a silly mishap from Emre Can saw Chelsea awarded a penalty. It was the correct decision but they didn’t deserve a helping hand at all. Hazard stepped up at 18 minutes and easily converted the penalty leaving Liverpool suddenly on the back foot after such a bright start.Gary Cahill and John Terry were struggling to deal with the flair and pace of Raheem Sterling who as always was simply unfazed by the calibre of his opposition. Martin Skrtel on the other hand had Diego Costa neatly tucked in his back pocket, aside from his inability to sway Martin Atkinson’s decision not to give a hand ball when Costa… handled the ball in the box.I personally think this was a penalty for us but I’ve since read differing opinions. I even heard one person say that it wasn’t a peno because he was on the floor. What? Is that an addition to the rule now is it? No hand balls if you’re lying down?Anyway. A goal behind Liverpool went into the second half once again creating constant attacks and troubling the Chelsea defence. After all our chances though it was clear it was going to take something special for the Reds to get themselves on the score sheet and Raheem Sterling provided just that.Just before the hour mark after an assist from Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling exploded on a run into the box. With four Chelsea players surrounding him, not one made an attempt to make a challenge and as his pace projected him into the box the youngster finished with ease to put Liverpool level.It was a fantastic goal from Sterling and I, as I’m sure everybody did, went a tad crazy. We thoroughly deserved to be right in this game and after some Sterling magic it was game on!Six minutes after the Sterling goal Steven Gerrard had a chance to claim glory for the Reds but his strike hit off the left hand upright. His face said it all and it was agonising to watch that effort sail away from goal on the rebound.The Reds continued to press Chelsea and their next best effort at goal came via a stunning Adam Lallana strike as the ball weaved in the air, Lallana himself was almost celebrating only to watch Courtois save.As the game drew to a close it was hard to comprehend that despite over 20 attempts at goal, Liverpool were walking away with a draw. A deluded Jose Mourinho suggested a draw was the correct result, he evidently didn’t see his sides two attempts at goal and pretty much naff all else then?As the Chelsea manager made strategically placed compliments about the Liverpool crowd again after the match, the mind games have once again begun for Mourinho who will absolutely relish the fact that his side are taking a draw back to Stamford Bridge after barely moving a muscle.Well he can jog on cause from now until next Tuesday I hope the Liverpool lads use the disappointment of playing so well and failing to win as a juggernaut to get through to the final.I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:@LFCKirstyLFC great performance. The jigsaw just needs a fit, goal scoring number 9. Step forward The Studge.— Redjonty (@Neednewbattery) January 21, 2015 @LFCKirstyLFC refs need more consistency!— Sachin Patel (@SachinPatel_87) January 20, 2015 @LFCKirstyLFC a pathetic attempt from a team that cost millions the game played like Chelsea is dead and buried pathetic absolutely pathetic— Tommy Hoban (@tomehoban) January 20, 2015Next up for Liverpool is Bolton in the FA Cup.Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

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LIVER BIRD – Both Strikers Score In Villa Win

Scroll through the numerous updates on social media regarding Liverpool Football Club and you’re guaranteed to find several tweets from disgruntled fans moaning about the fact we have to rely on Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert up front. Whilst some of the tweets will be completely warranted, others are unfounded drivel. Borini and Lambert are clearly not the perfect package but they are strikers and they will, given the chance, score goals.In Saturday’s clash with Aston Villa they both found the back of the net. It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of playing without a striker and so to see Borini given the chance to start was very pleasing. In the second half most people were distraught at the sight of Rickie Lambert preparing to come on whilst I found myself again feeling positive.It was Liverpool who got the better start in the game at Villa Park and after just 24 minutes the Reds had found themselves an opening goal. A brilliant cross from Jordan Henderson found its way to Fabio Borini who with a fantastic finish slotted his effort home to put Liverpool 1-0 up. Running away with his famous “dagger in the mouth” celebration, it was brilliant to see the Italian rewarded for his efforts of late. You may dislike him but he desperately wants to prove himself here at Liverpool and I for one, at least for now feel he deserves to be given the chance.Shortly after the goal the Reds created some more half chances firstly a Coutinho header that was saved by Guzan followed by a break from Raheem Sterling that resulted in his chipped effort being saved.In the second half it was Aston Villa who began to force the tide to turn but not before another chance for Liverpool. A Jordan Henderson corner was whipped into the box and met by the head of Martin Skrtel, with some power on his shot a flick on from Fabio Borini almost sent the ball into the back of the net only for Guzan to save once again.As Villa began to raise the pressure things got troublesome for the Reds. A strong Benteke strike later into the second half was superbly stopped by Mignolet who then followed up with another save straight afterwards to keep his side in the game.Shortly afterwards for Villa a Fabian Delph corner found its way to Baker but he sent his header just over the bar. Delph was involved in the action for Villa’s next real chance too when he played a lovely ball through to Benteke. This time it was Martin Skrtel with a perfectly timed challenge who prevented the danger for the Reds.Baker would soon find himself with another brilliant chance for Villa when receiving the ball in the box. The number two completely missed timed his kick though and the chance passed him by.As Liverpool appeared to weather the storm it was Lucas Leiva up the other end of the pitch who had a pop at goal. An effort from range for the midfielder almost curled its way in but yet again Guzan got down well and saved.At 78 minutes, just eight minutes after entering play it was Rickie Lambert’s time to shine. A wonderful turn to take the defender completely out of the race left Lambert with a chance to secure the Reds’ three points. With a lovely finish the ex Southampton man celebrated emphatically with the rest of his team mates and Liverpool were 2-0 up.Again, it was brilliant to see Lambert score, just like Borini he deserves his chance I feel. With few options up front at the moment and the apparent stubbornness of Brendan Rodgers not to play Mario Balotelli, I will always back a striker (I say always, there are exceptions) today we played two strikers and two strikers scored.I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:@LFCKirstyLFC it’s all about 3 points, play ugly, keep a clean, win. Henderson immense, grafting, hard working and skilled display today.— susan macneill (@liverbirdsuz) January 18, 2015 @LFCKirstyLFC Lucas’s leap into the crowd summed it up … Feels like we’re on the cusp of something now. Tricky second half but

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LIVER BIRD – Markovic Scores In Sunderland Win

Liverpool successfully ground out a 1-0 win over ten man Sunderland on Saturday after a Lazar Markovic goal in the first half sealed the deal for the Reds. It wasn’t a perfect performance from Brendan’s side by any stretch of the imagination but there were certainly positives to take from the game including the clean sheet and influential performance from Markovic.The Reds began the game in a very bright fashion with an early through ball from Philippe Coutinho reaching Markovic, the Serbian was then taken down by Wes Brown but the referee deemed the incident not to be worthy of a penalty.Luckily for Liverpool their next brush in with a refereeing decision worked very much in their favour. With just eight minutes gone in the game another quick break from Markovic down the right wing allowed him to pass the ball to Steven Gerrard. The captain then opted to pass to Borini who was quite clearly fouled as he attempted to get the ball back to Markovic, thankfully though the referee made a great decision opting to play advantage. Markovic then continued his run and slotted the ball through the keeper’s legs to put Liverpool 1-0 up.It was a well deserved goal for Markovic who despite not always being effective enters every game with exactly the right attitude. He’s willing to give his all and really push forward in attack, Sunderland were clearly flustered and not even a quarter of the game had been played.Another great chance for Liverpool arose shortly after the goal when Alberto Moreno won the Reds a free kick on the left hand side of the box. Steven Gerrard stepped up and with a brilliant effort forced Pantilimon into a save.As Liverpool continued to press in the first half whilst Sunderland struggled, it was Lazar Markovic again wowing the crowds. As the ball splayed out to Lazar who was hovering outside the box, he opted to go aerial in his effort, jumping before smashing an excellent shot at goal only to see it crash out off the post, onto Pantilimon and away from danger. It would of been an absolutely fantastic goal but luck wasn’t on Lazar’s side in that instance.Towards the end of the first half Fabio Borini was almost rewarded for his efforts in attack. A superb ball from Emre Can allowed the Italian to break into the box, his first touch took the ball nicely around the keeper but he was unable to find the end product from the tight angle. For me Fabio Borini had a great game. As many are aware I much prefer playing with a striker and whilst Borini is by no means the best he offers a lot to our game. His ability to draw the defenders’ focus on to him creates space therefore allowing players such as Markovic to break into the box and really create problems.In the second half things went from bad to worse for Sunderland who were still really struggling to create any real chances leaving Mignolet with no real job on. Bridcutt who had been booked in the first half found himself receiving a second yellow after taking down Emre Can on the wing. In my opinion it was pretty harsh to give Bridcutt the second booking here and I do think Sunderland were unlucky to see him sent off however the home side appeared to play a lot better once they were down to ten men.Sunderland’s best chance of the game fell to Adam Johnson who from distance in the second half struck a fluid shot. It’s movement had completely beat Simon Mignolet but the crossbar came to his rescue and ensured Liverpool would hang on to all three points.I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:@LFCKirstyLFC Hard fought victory in difficult conditions. Markovic showed signs of potential while Lovren showed us why hes a liability— LFCKopiteReds (@alanredmen79) January 11, 2015 @LFCKirstyLFC Excellent first half then BRs poor tactics were exposed with the subsequent changes he made. 3 onfield changes for Gerrard!!!— Mia Culpa (@UBSixT) January 11, 2015 @LFCKirstyLFC important clean sheet.Markovic shows more of his potential. Coutinho another steady performance with class.Still need striker— Cliff Morton (@CliffMorton) January 10, 2015 For me of course all that really matters is the three points but it’s quite worrying to realise that the only reason you beat Sunderland was due to a decent decision from a referee. We still really struggle to be clinical and I’m not certain that will be fixed any time soon even with the return of Daniel Sturridge.However the Reds are on a positive run and I do try to remain positive going forward. Next up for Liverpool is Aston Villa away.Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

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LIVER BIRD – United Put 3 Past Rodgers’ Reds

Liverpool fell to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United on Sunday as the Reds had 19 shots but failed to convert a single chance. The first half saw the Reds play without a striker leaving a lot of fans questioning this selection. In the second half Mario Balotelli entered the fray only to see his efforts brilliantly stamped out by the goalkeeping of David De Gea.For me, I didn’t like the line up from the off. One thing I will credit Brendan for though is deciding to drop Mignolet and start Brad Jones. That was a brave decision from the manager and despite ultimately conceding three goals, I think Brad actually had a good game. I felt a lot more comfortable and less nervy with him between the sticks.I just don’t think you can risk playing without a striker. Yes, the likes of Lallana, Coutinho and Sterling are all skillful and attacking players but Brendan Rodgers is hiding behind the premise that this is a technically sound formation. Even some of the best teams in the world struggle to play without a striker, let alone a Liverpool side who are struggling to find the back of the net?! It was just a silly decision for me.Some early pressure from Manchester United quickly turned into a goal for the home side. A confident strike from Wayne Rooney in the centre of the box put United ahead after a pin point assist from Antonio Valencia. The frustrating bit for Liverpool was not necessarily the goal but the fact that Valencia had broke past Joe Allen on the wing as if he wasn’t even there. Allen had a poor game for me and to be honest if I’m fielding a player to protect our somewhat questionable defence it will always be Lucas in my book, Allen just couldn’t hack it unfortunately.The goal didn’t do much for the Reds’ confidence and to be honest, other than the odd burst from Raheem Sterling, Liverpool were seriously lacking in options. Sterling also disappointingly was off his game, some of his chances throughout the 90 minutes you have to feel he would of buried last season but it just wasn’t happening on Sunday.Another blow for Liverpool in the first half (depending on your level of preference for Glen) saw Johnson being replaced by Kolo Toure. Kolo however could not aid his defence when Manchester United found themselves a second goal shortly before the end of the first half.Adding insult to injury Juan Mata was actually offside when he converted his header for United. Robin van Persie admitted in a post match interview that he did get a touch on the ball, flicking it on to an offside Mata. I don’t usually get so worked up about these things but it was frustrating to concede in that manner because it could have been a different game if we reached half time just the one goal down.For the second half, Rodgers immediately brought on Mario Balotelli who replaced Adam Lallana. I’m the first to admit I wear rose tinted glasses when it comes to Mario but to be honest, any striker would have been better than nothing. The original formation was just not working, we needed something to aim for and whilst I don’t necessarily like Balo up front on his own it was better than having nobody there!He has his critics but I think Balo did pretty well in the second half and Liverpool looked a lot better creating more chances and forcing De Gea into action. For me his shot that De Gea tipped off the bar was the most agonising. It was a cracking save. Another point to note was Balotelli’s movement, I don’t know if it was because he was feeling more excited because it was Manchester United but his run for the last real chance of his was brilliant, he was again unlucky to watch his shot saved by the underside of De Gea’s knee.Despite Liverpool having a much better spell they still couldn’t find that all important goal and at 70 minutes Manchester United had sealed their three points. A dodgy defensive clearance from Dejan Lovren saw the ball splay directly to Robin van Persie who of course was never going to waste his chance, his effort put United 3-0 up.This was the annoying thing for me, on another day that Lovren attempted clearance goes far away from any United player and on another day Juan Mata is called offside. Rooney’s shot I take 100% but it’s bloody annoying to concede in such a manner as the other two goals. We probably wouldn’t have scored anyway but a game at 1-0 down is far more promising than 3-0 down.Attempts were created from Liverpool in the dying minutes but as is so familiar now the Reds just could not score. I had a feeling we would lose the game but I never expected us to concede three to be honest. With Bournemouth in the week and Arsenal up next this is a very tough time for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers.I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:@LFCKirstyLFC Our season in a nutshell, woeful defending, toothless attack, over-reliance on Sterling, no protection in midfield.— Jonathan Bradley (@jrpb1987) December 14, 2014@LFCKirstyLFC Sturridge would have scored a hat trick and won that game, Rodger’s first half tactics were spot on, just no execution— Tristan Fitzpatrick (@Tristan71) December 14, 2014 @LFCKirstyLFC played well. Comedy defending as usual, but unlucky not to score one or two.— Phil (@Phil_A01) December 14, 2014Next up for Liverpool is Bournemouth in the League Cup quarter final.Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

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