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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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LIVER BIRD – Balo Scores In Late Swansea Win

Liverpool left it very late to progress past Swansea City in the league cup on Tuesday night but eventually with the help of a Mario Balotelli goal the Reds did enough to squeeze through. Dejan Lovren’s goal in the fifth minute of time added on secured the win for Brendan Rodgers’ side.The game got off to a steady yet unproductive start for the home side as Liverpool were maintaining a lot of possession but struggling to create any real danger in the final third. Brendan Rodgers had certainly shook up the side with Fabio Borini getting his first start in a while. The Italian put on a good display in front of the Anfield crowd but his real moment to shine would occur later in the game when his Italian compatriot would enter play.Philippe Coutinho or “the magician” as many like to call him, was another positive on display for Liverpool. His skill and speed allowed him to crack through the Swansea defence on occasion but there was still no end product for the Reds. It was a similar story for the majority of the first half whilst Swansea opted to rely on a counter attack and seemed happy to allow Liverpool to keep the ball.The second half began in a similar fashion to the first. It was clear the game plan from Swansea was to rely on their defensive abilities, keep Liverpool out and then hit them when they least expected it. Their plan certainly worked when at 65 minutes The Swans got themselves off the mark.A ball over our defence reached Marvin Emnes who converted to put his side ahead. Swansea had done exactly what so many teams have done to Liverpool and they now looked the more likely to score again. Thankfully though Brendan Rodgers had something up his sleeve.Mario Balotelli who I was praying was going to start because I had a feeling Brendan would start a 4-4-2, had to settle for starting from the bench. According to Colin Pascoe he also picked up a knock in the warm up and so may not have featured at all but a side of the Italian’s personality that we never usually see displayed how important it was for him to feature and support his team.Shortly before this substitution Adam Lallana had also entered the field of play meaning Liverpool now had some fresh legs. At 85 minutes, Balotelli’s chance finally came. A simply sublime cross from Fabio Borini flew into the centre of the box, begging for somebody to be on the end of it and finally, FINALLY Mario was there! With a brilliant finish our controversial forward had equalised in front of the Kop end and I went bloody mental!I’ve been so, so desperate for him to score and do well and realising that a goal could really boost his confidence I’m so chuffed he got on the score sheet last night and in such fashion. He will never be perfect but I honestly feel he will go on to improve now and even more so when he gets the chance to properly pair up with Daniel Sturridge.With the clock running down Liverpool now had to find another goal or risk this game going into extra time. Something I really didn’t want with a 5:45am alarm set!A stroke of luck for Liverpool though meant Fernandez was sent off for Swansea two minutes into extra time. It wasn’t a red card but the decrease in personnel numbers wasn’t necessarily the advantage for Liverpool it was the added time it allowed.On 90+4:46 Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren converted the winner. Assisted by a Philippe Coutinho set piece the defender was free at the back post and headed home to secure Liverpool’s place in the next round!I love a bit of late drama and it was nice to see us score a goal with a defender! Swansea looked gutted and they should have been. They kept their nerve and concentration for so long that it looked as though their game plan had got the better of us but if there’s one thing Liverpool do it’s is play until the end and with a stroke of lady luck, thankfully we managed to win!I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:@LFCKirstyLFC I think Borini showed that he deserves PL starts. Good rest for Sterling. Great confidence boost for Mario and Lovren.— TopOfThe18 (@bortzfield) October 29, 2014 @LFCKirstyLFC good first half, dropped off in the second half but scored the goals that we needed, relief to get into the next round— LFC News and Gossip (@Lfcynwanews) October 29, 2014 @LFCKirstyLFC Great goals, Lucas and Coutinho played great but Lambert was rubbish for me! So glad Mario finally got one

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