The Liverbird

LIVER BIRD – 19th Century Football

Jose Mourinho once described the tactics of West Ham United as a display of “19th century football” his comments were derogatory and never intended to be received in a positive way. On Sunday however, the master of hypocrisy as opposed to the “master of tactics” also produced some sublime “19th century football”. Whilst I begrudgingly commend him for coming to Anfield with a plan, getting some luck and seeing it out, I mostly still find the man repulsive, arrogant and somebody who only sees things as “right” when he himself says or produces them.Liverpool on the other hand as Brendan Rodgers proudly responded post match were to play this game in the manner they have all season – they would attack. Whilst some feel Rodgers got it wrong and that he should have played for a draw, I feel this is where the real admiration is. Rodgers’ played great football and if it wasn’t for a Steven Gerrard slip Chelsea would have been sitting on a frankly worthless 0-0.The first chance of the game actually fell to Chelsea and for a brief moment it appeared as though the Chelsea bus might be in retirement. A long range shot from Ashley Cole forced Mignolet into a very early save. It wasn’t long though before the double decker returned, complete with passengers tying their shoelaces and keeping the ball in the corner despite it being the first half… pathetic.Following the Cole chance Luis Suarez broke down the right wing swinging a cross over to Philippe Coutinho who took his effort first time but smashed the ball into the side netting. Still on the attack Liverpool soon managed to gain a corner which created trouble in the box for Chelsea as the ball had to be cleared off the line. Eventually falling to Sakho, his effort flew high over the bar.Ashley Cole may not have been playing regularly for Chelsea but he was certainly making his presence felt in this game for all the wrong reasons. The defender at one stage completely clattered into Suarez leading with an elbow, a free kick was awarded but the Chelsea man was never booked.Shortly afterwards Chelsea had one of their rare attacks and found themselves annoyed with the referee when a Salah shot hit Flanagan’s hand. In my opinion this was ball to hand as Flanno was turning his back at the moment of contact, I feel Chelsea would have been very lucky had that decision gone their way.Referee Martin Atkinson by this point must have been getting bored of “warning” the Chelsea players about their time wasting as the tying of laces became more prominent. Not only this but Schwarzer was taking goal kicks like he needed a sat nav to find the pissin ball, it was just ridiculous. They got away with their antics for far too long, it was frustrating the hell out of me so god knows how the players were feeling.Late in the second half before Chelsea finally took advantage a corner for Mourinho’s side found its way to Kalas who was unlucky with his header. As Liverpool prepared to regroup though, hoping to reach half time still with a result that was more than suitable for them, a disaster happened.Steven Gerrard of all the people on the pitch accidentally slipped gifting Demba Ba possession. Chelsea may not have the best strike force in the world but there was no way Ba was messing this chance up. One on one with Simon Mignolet he slipped the ball underneath the keeper and put Chelsea into the lead.Despite conceding in such a heartbreaking and annoying way by half time, confidence was still high, you just had to feel that Liverpool would continue to press and eventually find a goal. The other aspect was that Steven Gerrard, already pumped prior to the game, was surely not going to allow his mistake to write the story of this title race.Whilst an angry and driven Gerrard in some senses should have been a positive it actually turned out to be a negative for Liverpool and this was made evident straight away in the second half. A long range effort from Gerrard forced Schwarzer into a save but it was clear that Liverpool were not going to score that way, yet Gerrard trying to play the hero would continue to have a pop at these shots instead of sometimes making the pass. This isn’t a dig by the way, it’s just very clear that if Gerrard had not of slipped and given away a goal, there’s no way he’d of been shooting from that range in the second half.Just before the hour mark Liverpool replaced Lucas with Daniel Sturridge. It was great to see Daniel back and I just kept thinking that before we know it he’ll be linking up with Suarez and we’ll bag that all important goal, the moment however, never came.Joe Allen was the next man to have a chance for Liverpool, his stinging volley called Schwarzer into action again and the Cech understudy did a brilliant job maintaining his side’s lead.Shortly afterwards, Simon Mignolet was doing the heroics after a run from Schurrle eventually ended with a shot, Mignolet saved well though and once again proved how much he is worth to Liverpool. He makes his mistakes but he always pulls off something brilliant that usually helps see his team over the line but not today.More long range efforts from Gerrard proved that things were getting desperate as Liverpool just could not find a way through Chelsea’s ten men behind the ball. A moment of ingenuity from Coutinho though when he managed to flick a pass over the defence sent the ball agonisingly close to Luis Suarez who you have to feel would have scored if he made a connection.Suarez would also see the last real chance of the game for Liverpool after a corner ball eventually fell to him, a cracking shot forced Schwarzer into yet another brilliant save and the Reds began to realise that this was not going to be their day.To top it all off, Liverpool lost possession late on, again due to the manner in which they were playing and the panic of finding a goal. Who else but Fernando Torres? His resulting run was followed by Willian and whilst Torres of old would have simply slotted the ball into the back of the net, the Spaniard decided to pass to Willian who scored, crushing Liverpool’s dreams right there and then.I was absolutely devastated by final whistle, I don’t mind admitting it, I was almost crying as the realisation of the title slipping away began to set in. What made it worse (and this is my own fault) is that I genuinely 100% did not feel we would lose this game, I knew Mourinho would set up the way he did but I felt we would at least gain a draw.Add to that the manner in which we lost and also the smug bastard Mourinho screaming his head off down the line and well, I was a tad pissed off.I said at the start, as much as it pains me to say it, Mourinho got it right, I do think I have a right to moan about his tactics simply because he himself slates them when it’s not his side doing it. But the fact is Mourinho knew exactly what he was doing and he got that bit of luck that Chelsea needed. The Reds tried but they just could not break down the Chelsea defence and saves from Schwarzer also made it extremely difficult for Liverpool.However, after sleeping and sulking for most of yesterday evening I have woken up back in my typical optimistic mode. We’re still pissin in this race and nobody knows what is going to happen, so guess what? WE GO AGAIN.I asked you for your thoughts on the game on Twitter and here are a few of the tweets I received.Next up for Liverpool is Crystal Palace.Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

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LIVER BIRD – When Gerrard Said "Exactly The Same" We Didn’t Know He Meant Another 3-2!

Liverpool in typical heart stopping fashion managed to collect another vital three points at Norwich on Sunday as they eventually won the game 3-2. A quick start for the Reds set a precedent for the game before Norwich slowly began to gain a foothold and pushed Liverpool right to the wire. Goals from Sterling and Suarez ensured Liverpool remained at the top of the table with just three games left.Brendan Rodgers was forced into making two changes for this fixture with Daniel Sturridge out injured and Jordan Henderson suspended. Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva took their place. With Suarez in the starting line up an interesting stat read that the Uruguayan had scored 11 goals in his last four games against Norwich!The game began brightly for Liverpool who quickly got off the mark via the brilliant Raheem Sterling. After making his own space Sterling opted to take a long range shot and with a powerful stinging effort he sent his strike straight into the back of the net leaving Ruddy with no chance. There may have been a slight deflection but it takes nothing away from the goal, it was a superb start to the game for Liverpool!You know things are going well when Joe Allen gets a crack at goal too. Shortly afterwards with a set up from Coutinho the midfielder forced Ruddy into a good save.Liverpool continued to apply the pressure and after a pass from Flanagan to Sterling, the youngster again showed what a fantastic prospect he is. He waited patiently for an encroaching Luis Suarez and then placed a perfect ball into the box, Suarez then finished neatly slotting the ball to Ruddy’s left to put Liverpool 2-0 up after 10 minutes.After starting so brilliantly things quickly began to take a different turn for Liverpool in the latter stages of the first half. Norwich slowly but surely began to get a foothold and with their fans getting more and more vociferous the Reds were soon having to deal with some dangerous situations. A mix up in the box from the Liverpool defence late on nearly led to a goal and a sloppy loss of possession by Glen Johnson led to another attempt from Norwich which forced Mignolet into a save.The second half started much of the same for Norwich who continued to pressure the Liverpool defence. In the midst of it all a chance for Liverpool saw Suarez make a beautiful long range pass to Countiho who sent a pass to Sterling but this time his shot flew over the bar.Soon Norwich’s hard work would pay off. A cross into the box was poorly dealt with by Mignolet who committed but failed to punch clear. In the melee a Johnson header fell to Hooper who slotted the ball home with ease to put Norwich right back in the game.Liverpool never appear to make things easy for themselves and I’ve been saying constantly that this game and the Palace one would be the real questions. At times in this game it felt like we were beginning to throw it all away.Seven minutes later though and Liverpool had punished again. Norwich lost possession far too easily and Raheem Sterling was the first to pounce, his run all the way to the box was sure to end in a pass but the youngster decided to take the effort himself, with a bit of luck his resulting shot deflected off Johnson and flew high over Ruddy, dropping neatly into the back of the net.Liverpool definitely needed the two goal cushion at this point but Norwich were not finished yet. Another bout of green and yellow pressure left Liverpool struggling to deal with the attacks. Firstly a long range effort from Snodgrass forced Mignolet into a save and shortly afterwards a Redmond shot smashed off Skrtel and flew out for a corner. The header from the resulting corner for Norwich went very close but they didn’t have to wait much longer for their second of the game.Another cross into the danger area from Norwich from Olsson found its way to Snodgrass. The Norwich player did well to force his way into the air above John Flanagan who failed to follow his man upwards. The resulting header from Snodgrass once again put Norwich back in the game.At this stage the Reds began to look extremely nervy even a shot from van Wolfswinkel called Mignolet into action and he hasn’t scored in ages! It was another nail biting end to a game for Liverpool fans but thankfully the Reds managed to hold out.It was a fantastic performance from Norwich who definitely had Liverpool panicking throughout the game but as has happened so often this season, Liverpool have worked through the pressure from other teams, they’ve scored goals, held on and fought for their points, for me, this is what a title winning side does.I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received.Next up for Liverpool is Chelsea!Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

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The Liverbird

LIVER BIRD – Reds Keep The Dream Alive

We are top of the league, say we are top of the league! …Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be rounding up the match aren’t I? The beauty of running an informal blog means you can sometimes start a post in full on fan mode though! What a fantastic performance from Liverpool on Sunday as they put four goals past an extremely lacklustre Tottenham side. With Liverpool knowing they could take the top spot at the end of this fixture, Anfield was absolutely electric.Brendan Rodgers made just the one change to his side deciding to field Raheem Sterling instead of Joe Allen creating an even larger attacking presence for the Reds.As seems to be a trend for Liverpool, the game quickly got off to a great start as the Reds created problems in the box for Spurs. A lovely pass from Coutinho to Sterling allowed the youngster to run down the right wing, Glen Johnson then with a perfectly timed overlapping run received the ball from Sterling and whipped a cross into the danger zone. A then bumbling Kaboul managed to turn the ball into his own net and Liverpool had taken the lead.Less than two minutes in and already a goal up, things really were looking positive for Liverpool who were playing with such confidence that Spurs just didn’t appear to be able to cope. Tottenham looked lacking in both desire and ideas and it didn’t take long before a slip up from them allowed the Reds through on goal again.Dawson who had only just entered play made a snappy decision to quickly pass back to Kaboul who had Suarez on his tail. The Uruguayan of course won the ball and after a bursting run completed his attack with a wonderful finish from a tight angle placing his effort low to the right of goal.His celebration was brilliant and if Anfield wasn’t loud enough already, the decibels rose once again after this one as the dream began to seem like a reality. There’s still a long way to go for Liverpool of course there is but with the title in their hands and in the form they are in… why shouldn’t we believe?!Shortly after our second goal Spurs created one of their only chances of the game, a decent shot left Skrtel having to throw his body in the way to keep Liverpool out of danger.Towards the end of the second half Sterling nicked possession and put in a cracking cross to Luis Suarez who was in acres of space. His resulting header had enough power and accuracy and looked certain to find the back of the net but a fantastic save from Lloris denied Liverpool a third before half time.The second half started well again for Liverpool who were in such a buoyant mood it was hard to believe they were playing against a side who were pushing so strongly last season for the Champions League.Firstly a quality one-two with Sturridge and Sterling left the latter through on goal, whilst most would have expected Sterling to take on the chance himself he decided to pass to Henderson on his left who unfortunately sent his effort way over the bar.A few minutes later though and Liverpool had scored their third of the game. After a break all the way from defence via Flanagan he eventually passed the ball to Coutinho who broke through to leave himself with enough space to have a pop, another great finish left Coutinho celebrating a goal that he fully deserved. He’s been playing extremely well lately in my opinion and it was brilliant to see him get on the score sheet!3-0 up and getting almost bored of the lack of return from Spurs, Liverpool well and truly had this one in the bag. Chants of “we shall not be moved” began to ring around Anfield as the fans got more and more excited at the prospect of that elusive Premier League Title.The game wasn’t over yet though. At one stage Daniel Sturridge nearly got himself on the score sheet with some lovely trickery and a somewhat cocky back heeled shot, his effort was saved by Lloris though who had definitely prevented Spurs from conceding 6 or 7.With 15 minutes of the game to go Luis Suarez was fouled close to the box and with Steven Gerrard now off the pitch it was left to Jordan Henderson to step up. After sending the ball into the box his effort eventually found its way through two Liverpool players and a Spurs defender and into the back of the net. A stunned Henderson assumed somebody must have got a touch but Luis Suarez who could have made it to 30 goals was first to point to Hendo to tell him it was in fact his goal.After the nervy end to the Sunderland game some critics began to question whether Liverpool had the bottle but after this performance they have definitely quietened down.I asked you for your thoughts on the game on Twitter and here are a few of the replies I got…Next up for Liverpool is West Ham away. I did try to post a few notes around the place a week or so ago because there will be a match preview for this fixture but the match report will be missing as I am in Budapest! I hate missing previews or reports but I don’t believe in working when you are on a holiday or break and I’m sure you can all agree with this. So be sure to check out the preview, spare a thought for me too as my flight takes off as soon as we kick off, it’s going to be agony not knowing what is going on!!!Normal service will be resumed for the simply MASSIVE City game.Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

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The Liverbird

LIVER BIRD – Penos-A-Plenty In Old Trafford Win

Liverpool walked away from Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon having collected all three points scoring two penalties and one goal via Luis Suarez from open play. The Reds were awarded three spot kicks but it could have been five or six in a game that saw some controversial decisions mixed with a truly poor performance from the once exuberant Manchester United.Brendan Rodgers had clearly put some thought into his starting line up for this one, opting once again to include Joe Allen in the midfield in order to help protect the back four. The added bonus for Liverpool too was that both Lucas and Sakho were back on the bench. A forward three consisted of Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez (complete with knitted boots!)The game got off to a good start for Liverpool who immediately sprung into action when a Henderson pass reached Daniel Sturridge, unfortunately his resulting shot went wide. Neither side to begin with was maintaining possession long enough but this perhaps worked in Liverpool’s favour as they took their chances to break via interceptions.Another early attack saw a ball from Flanagan reach Luis Suarez, a run into the box then saw the Uruguayan challenged by Fellaini. There were several fans asking the question of Suarez to go down and I do feel on this rare occasion he was being too honest as I feel there was something in it. However I wasn’t too disappointed that it wasn’t awarded what with a massive portion of the game left to play.Later in the first half an incident occurred involving Rafael and Steven Gerrard, Rafael was booked for his poor scissor challenge on the captain but it was the moments that followed that left Liverpool fans fuming.A lovely cross from Sturridge found its way to Luis Suarez in the box, as he began to fluster Rafael and make his way towards goal, Rafael absolutely blatantly batted the ball out the way. The penalty was awarded but Rafael after just being booked minutes earlier escaped a second yellow which I felt was a shocking decision. He should not have been on that pitch and even though Liverpool didn’t end up needing any extra help, playing against 10 men at Old Trafford would have been a huge bonus.The resulting penalty was taken by Steven Gerrard, as cool as ever he stepped up and placed the spot kick to the right of goal. Liverpool were 1-0 up.Up until this stage Manchester United had created nothing, Mignolet had not been called into action once until with two minutes left of the first half Wayne Rooney sprung to life. A stinging effort was saved by the superb reactions of Mignolet who must have felt relieved to have cleared that potential danger.I can’t stand Wayne Rooney for a multitude of reasons but in fairness to him, he was the only United player on the pitch yesterday that appeared to have any fight or urgency.The second half didn’t take long at all to get underway when only seconds in Liverpool were awarded another penalty! This one for me was a definite, Phil Jones completely clattered Joe Allen out the way and off the ball, it was a shocking decision from Jones to do that so early on in the second half but it was clear from some of the decisions that the United players were making meant they were struggling to deal with the waves of attack from Liverpool.Steven Gerrard stepped up once again to take the penalty and in an almost action replay he slotted home to the right of goal again to put Liverpool 2-0 up.Shortly after the Liverpool penalty this time there were shouts at the other end. A potential hand ball from Glen Johnson left the United players screaming and if I’m honest I think they could of had a case. However it was not as clear cut as the Rafael hand ball earlier on in the game.The next penalty incident came when Wayne Rooney decided to throw himself into Martin Skrtel OUTSIDE of the box, there were several United fans in the pub I was in going absolutely mad for this one but no way in hell was it a penalty.As United struggled to create anything Brendan Rodgers and his boys continued to boss the game, it’s a very long while since I’ve seen a team of ours play that well at Old Trafford and despite the fact we’d scored from penalties, United looked lost. They were never going to get back into this game no matter what decisions did or did not go their way in my opinion.The next moment in the game to note was a retrospective yellow card for Vidic after a challenge on Luis Suarez, initially this appeared to be less than problematic for United but that would soon change.Vidic was then involved in a penalty decision after what looked like a challenge on Daniel Sturridge, the penalty was awarded to Liverpool and Vidic was booked for the second time giving him his marching orders however the replays were not a nice sight.For me, there’s no bones about it, Sturridge dived, it’s unlike him and I don’t condone it but then Steven Gerrard missed the spot kick anyway sending his effort off the post and so for me justice was done. Ok, United were left with 10 players but I’m sorry, as I’ve said several times, they ALREADY should have only had 10 men on the pitch so for me the missed peno and Vidic going off just levelled things out.Just when you thought there had been enough penalty decisions in this game, Daniel Sturridge was once again challenged in the box, this time he was taken down by Michael Carrick and this time for me it was a definite penalty but was it given? No. Do you hear us droning on about it? No. Whereas almost every United fan I know at the moment appears to only be able to remember that Sturridge dive from the whole game… weird that.Shortly after this decision, De Gea was called into action when some Luis Suarez trickery left the defense dumbstruck, it was a quality save from De Gea to deny Liverpool a third.At 83 minutes Daniel Sturridge was involved in an attack once again, his shot however found its way to Luis Suarez who with a lovely finish sent his effort around De Gea and this time found Liverpool’s third.By now the away end at Old Trafford had gone absolutely mental and they continued to do so all the way to the final whistle.The amount of times we’ve had to sit through losses to Manchester United, it was so refreshing to beat them on their own door step and in style. A lot (not all) of Manchester United fans just seem to think they have the divine right to win, especially when playing us and it’s soddin hilarious that we’re now a massive 14 points in front of them. Oh well, good luck with The Chosen One n all that… hahahaha.I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received.Next up for Liverpool is Cardiff away.P.s. Just a pre-warning I didn’t realise but I’ll be on a flight to Budapest when we kick off against West Ham in a few weeks and I don’t return home until the Wednesday. For this reason there WILL be a West Ham match preview on the blog but the match report will be missing. Apologies! Normal service will be resumed for the City game!Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

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The Liverbird

LIVER BIRD – Arsenal Knock Liverpool Out Of FA Cup

Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup on Sunday at the hands of an Arsenal side who perhaps couldn’t believe their luck at 90 minutes. Liverpool were arguably the better of the two sides but unfortunately for the Reds there wasn’t an end product. Some strange penalty decisions also left Liverpool fans berating Howard Webb.Liverpool began the game having made three changes to the side with Allen replacing Henderson, Agger replacing Toure and Brad Jones replacing Simon Mignolet between the sticks. In a busy week for Arsenal, Arsene Wenger also made some changes swapping a total of seven of his team members from their last fixture.The first half for Liverpool consisted of some chances mainly via Daniel Sturridge. Very early on in the game a lovely pass from Steven Gerrard had Sturridge through on goal but his effort was perhaps too direct for a prepared Fabianski. Shortly afterwards another ball through to Sturridge saw him smash his effort off the side netting. The Reds were applying some pressure but it was Arsenal who were first off the mark.A free kick on the edge of the box was taken by Arteta, the resulting cross then came out to Ozil on the other side who put the ball back into the mixer. An effort from Sanogo then clattered off Steven Gerrard’s back and fell nicely to Oxlade-Chamberlain who converted with relative ease to put Arsenal ahead.It was a bit of a fluky goal for Arsenal but nevertheless Liverpool were behind and it’s never easy to score at the Emirates.The first half ended without any more goals from either side but it still appeared as though Liverpool would be the ones to score. The second half saw Liverpool come out with increased positivity, the team talk had clearly ignited some dwindling sparks and Luis Suarez was quick to cause problems forcing Fabianski to save a shot with his feet.As soon as Liverpool had recouped from that missed chance though, the gunners had made a break. A cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain found its way to an in space Podolski who confidently finished to score Arsenal’s second of the night.After beating Arsenal 5-1 at home it was hard to feel as though you would be unable to find the back of the net at least once but as the game progressed it did begin to feel like it wasn’t Liverpool’s day.Just before the hour mark Liverpool were gifted a chance to get back into the game. A kick on Suarez in the box meant Liverpool were awarded a penalty, as Steven Gerrard stepped up, the away end prayed the captain would get us back into the game and of course, he did. Another classic penalty put the Reds right back into the game with half an hour still left to go.After the penalty the focus was back on Daniel Sturridge, another lovely ball through to him this time from Coutinho saw him one on one with the keeper again but he failed to take it around the keeper after a brilliant hand to the ball from Fabianski and Liverpool had let another chance slip.The next incident of note really was ridiculous. I’m the first to admit that Suarez is theatrical, he was for his first penalty decision as well but that should not take away the fact that this was a blatant penalty. You didn’t need to distinguish whether the theatrics were real or not, the challenge was just poor. Howard Webb did have a line of sight and I cannot for any reason see why he did not award the penalty. I hate relying on decisions but another penalty at that stage in the game? Well we could have quite easily of been taking Arsenal back to Anfield. Shame on you Mr.Webb.As the game ticked on the Reds desperately tried to find that equaliser and their best chance came in the dying moments when a Gerrard free kick was flicked into the box. Daniel Agger’s header looked as though it was going in and I was well out of my chair as it travelled, the chance however flew just wide and that was that. Liverpool’s run in this season’s FA Cup was over.I asked you for your thoughts on Twitter but because of the delay in the post I didn’t tweet for as many responses as I usually would so I’ll just leave you with two tweets this week.It’s a tough result to take really when you look at the performance and the decisions but to win at the Emirates you need to take your chancesand we just didn’t do that. Daniel Sturridge was clearly very emotional post game and that just goes to show how much the FA Cup does mean to at least some players. I personally would have loved to see us go through and face Everton but it just wasn’t to be, from here on in we focus on the league and who knows what might happen!Next up for Liverpool is Swansea at home.Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

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