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 Guardian

GUARDIAN – Brendan Rodgers fires title warning to Manchester City and Chelsea

Liverpool top Premier League after Tottenham rout Rodgers says City and Chelsea will find it ‘tough’ at AnfieldBrendan Rodgers has warned Liverpool’s title rivals, Manchester City and Chelsea, that they face a “tough challenge” to knock Liverpool from the top of Premier League after watching his side reach the summit with a 4-0 victory over Tottenham.The home side put in an awesome display against the London club, taking the lead inside two minutes through Youns Kaboul’s own-goal, with goals from Luis Surez, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson wrapping up Liverpool’s eighth successive league win and one which has put them within sight of a first title in 24 years. With six fixtures to go the race is in Liverpool’s hands, and their home encounters against third-placed City on 13 April and second-placed Chelsea on 27 April are increasingly taking on the shape of defining encounters.

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The Guardian

GUARDIAN – Liverpool run through the repertoire against shambolic Tottenham Hotspur

It is all falling into place for Liverpool. ‘Brendan Rodgers The Carefully Chosen One’ read a loaded banner inside Anfield and his side moved imperiously to the Premier League summit with a defeat of Tottenham Hotspur that illustrated the belief running through the club. Six more performances like this and the once distant prospect of title 19 will be a reality for Liverpool.Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, could only look on with envy as the manager who rejected his approach in 2012 “citing instability at White Hart Lane as the reason orchestrated another Anfield demolition. Two seats behind sat a squirming Tim Sherwood as angry visiting supporters chanted “Where is our manager?” following an inept display from a team that started the season with the ambition that Liverpool are close to delivering.

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The Guardian

GUARDIAN – Liverpool 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur: five talking points

Brendan Rodgers proves Liverpool can win in a variety of ways, while Gylfi Sigurdsson must wonder what could have beenThis has been a season in which Brendan Rodgers has shown that far from being a rigid idealist he is a manager willing to change his team’s line-up and shape on a regular basis. Here he ditched a four-man diamond midfield containing Joe Allen which has served Liverpool well in recent weeks and returned to a 4-3-3 formation, which gave the hosts far greater width. It proved a wise decision inside two minutes as Raheem Sterling, who came in for Allen and was stationed on the right flank, played an outside pass to Johnson whose cross led to Younes Kaboul’s own goal. It was from the far left that Luis Suarez struck to make it 2-0 – and secure a remarkable 29th goal of the season – and in general, Spurs were stretched and strained by a Liverpool side who are clearly capable of winning in a variety of ways.

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The Guardian

GUARDIAN – Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur as it happened!

Liverpool are top of the Premier league table after swatting Spurs aside at Anfield Click here for the best images from the game 5.51pm BST That’s all she wrote. And that is Liverpool’s eight straight win. It’s 24 years since they were last champions of England but they end the weekend on top of the league. There is just 6 games to go. They could do. Thanks for all the emails and 5.50pm BST 90 + 1 mins “We are going to win the league,” chant the Liverpool fans. 5.49pm BST 90 mins There will three more minutes before Liverpool go top of the league. Soldado has gone off on a stretcher. He looked to land badly after going up for header and so Spurs will finish with 10. 5.47pm BST 87 mins Another corner to Spurs. Again it lands on the head of Dawson. This time instead of knocking it down to Kaboul he knocks it over the bar. That might have been Spurs’ best effort all day. How depressing for Spurs fans that an 87th-minute header from a centre-back that went over the bar is your side’s best effort on goal all game. 5.43pm BST 85 mins Spurs get a corner. Dawson knocked it down. Kaboul went for it. Skrtel got there before him. 5.42pm BST 84 mins “The Smiths? asks Paul Thompson with a sense of incredulity. “1986 is when Prince released Kiss – go and see him instead. You might want to take in an early Def Jam tour also, and get down to Bristol to experience early trip-hop. I should also go and watch Gazza when he could still play.” 5.41pm BST 82 mins Sterling leaves and Moses comes on. 5.40pm BST 81 mins Spurs get their attack on. Soldado is played into the box but he just let the ball run away from him. This allowed Flanagan to put an absolute cruncher of a tackle on the Spurs forward. He looks hurt but he’ll carry on. Spurs do nothing with the subsequent corner. 5.39pm BST 80 mins “I’m looking forward to Tim’s comments after this mess. It’ll be the most entertainment offered up by Spurs all afternoon,” honks Matt Dony. 5.37pm BST 78 mins Think it is pretty safe to say that once that fourth goal went it, out went Sherwood’s chances of keeping this job next season. Even if the team is playing for you, you can’t keep sending out a team as disorganised and defensively naive as this. 5.34pm BST Surez won a free-kick for Liverpool wide on the left. Since Gerrard was off, Henderson stepped up. He curled the ball into the box, everyone missed it and in it went. Simples. 5.33pm BST Spurs concede from a set-piece once again. Who would have thought that? 5.32pm BST 73 mins A corner to Spurs draws some ironic cheers from the fans. Eriksen sends it in but Flanagan clears. Liverpool look to counter with a long ball over the top but Lloris, in his usual position on the half-way line, kicks the ball to touch. 5.30pm BST 72 mins “If it’s 1986 can I go and see The Smiths again?” says Simon McMahon. “First band I ever saw, Caird Hall, Dundee, The Queen Is Dead Tour.” Mine was Embrace. How embarrassing. 5.29pm BST 71 mins Some pretty pictures for you to feast your eyes upon. 5.28pm BST 69 mins Off goes Gerrard to be replaced by Lucas. 5.28pm BST 68 mins Oh my. What a goal this would have been. Sterling, at the half-way line, tries to play in Sturridge. Rose looks to have it covered on the edge of the box but he completely mucks it up, allowing Sturridge to take control of the ball. With his back to goal, he tries to back-heel it in, Kaboul style, but Spurs smother his effort to safety. 5.25pm BST 65 mins Liverpool are in t-o-t-a-l control now. They are just passing it around with the utmost of ease. Spurs cannot get near it. This could get ugly for Spurs. Correction. This could get uglier for Spurs. Much, much, uglier. 5.21pm BST 63 mins Coutinho departs to a massive applause from the Anfield crowd. He is replaced by Allen. 5.20pm BST 62 mins “Where is Roy?” asks Marie Meyer. “That Coutinho goal was started by Flanagan. I so want him to get a seat on the plane.” While he has improved under Rodgers and he certainly kept Lennon quiet today think there might be a few players ahead of Flanagan in the pecking order for England’s left back spot. 5.18pm BST 59 mins Off goes the ever disappointing Lennon and on comes Townsend. Bentaleb also does one to be replaced by Dembl. 5.16pm BST Flanagan picked the ball up deep inside his own half and pushed forward. Taking a glimpse up, he played a long ball to Coutinho. The Liverpool No10 carried it forward and despite the presence of a bunch of Tottenham defenders and despite being about 25 yards out, he smashes it into the bottom corner of Lloris’ net. What a wonderful player he is. 5.14pm BST What a finish this is too. 5.13pm BST 53 mins The camera panned to Sherwood on his phone in the crowd. He had his mouth covered so he could not be lip-read. Once the call was finished, the Tottenham official turned to him and clearly asked what he said. Sherwood answered the question without covering his mouth. Back to the match, Henderson should have made it three nil just moments ago but his effort inside the box was just over the bar. No need to worry about that though because … 5.10pm BST 51 mins RE Sturridge and his diving, Patrick Crumlish says: “He got an awful doing after the Man U match. Mills tore into him on MOTD2.” 5.09pm BST 49 mins By the way, there were no changes at half-time to tell about. Sterling and Sturridge attack down the right but Liverpool soon shift the ball to the left before they tiki-taka their way around the back for a bit and eventually play it back to Mignolet. He hits a decent long ball and Surez is almost played in but Tottenham deal with it. 5.05pm BST 47 mins “Two nil is a dangerous lead,” cliches Martin Tyler. Meanwhile, Sigurdsson got his hands all up in Coutinho’s grill and gets a yellow card for his effort. Liverpool have started quickly here. 5.03pm BST 45 mins We are back. And we are back with the thoughts of Gary Naylor. @ianmccourt Looking out at a post-recession South London with the Tories looking electable and Everton and Liverpool unstoppable. It’s 1986. 4.47pm BST That was too easy for Liverpool and too little from Tottenham. Back in a few minutes once the usual half-time cup of tea has been consumed. 4.45pm BST 44 mins Under pressure from Surez, Naughton falls on his arse and hits the ball with his hand. It’s a free-kick to Liverpool on the left-hand side of the box. Surez takes. Surez curls wide. 4.43pm BST 41 mins The last few minutes have seen Tottenham put some passes together and put some pressure on Liverpool but this has left them open to swift counterattacks. And this is exactly what has just happened. Liverpool sped down the right wing. The ball went back to Lloris and he played it to Kaboul. Sterling robbed him off the ball and looking up chipped the ball to the back post where Surez was in acres of space. His header was powerful and destined to be a goal only for Lloris to pull off a great save. 4.40pm BST 39 mins “Does the media give Sturridge a free-pass on his diving because he’s English or are you guys as easily conned as the refs?” asks Scott Stricker. Does he really get a free pass? Not sure he does. He has come in for a fair bit of criticism from what I’ve seen. 4.38pm BST 37 mins Spurs get a rare attack down the right. Eriksen picks the ball up outside the box. He has time and space to shoot but he opts to try dissect the Liverpool defence. It was the wrong option. Moments later, Bentaleb fires in another effort which Mignolet does well to keep hands on. 4.33pm BST 33 mins Kaboul’s nightmare continues. He has just picked up a yellow card for a tackle on Sturridge just on the corner of the box. Three Liverpool players surround the ball but it is Sturridge who takes it. He curls his effort just inches over the bar. Lloris had it covered. 4.31pm BST 31 mins Player of the year?29 Luis Suarez has scored 29 goals this season; the most by any Liverpool player in a single PL season. Landmark. 4.29pm BST 29 mins “At this rate, Liverpool may give Spurs a Munstering” puns Mike Olson. 4.28pm BST Well it’s the end of the game for Vertonghen and it might just be the end of the game for Tottenham. On the left, deep in his own half, Gerrard a long, fairly aimless ball down the wing. It lands at the fresh-off-the-bench Dawson who tries to play the ball inside to Kaboul. The pass is short, however, and this gives Surez the time and space to battle Kaboul for possession. It is a battle he wins and he careers off towards the Spurs goal. Once in the box, he fires the ball into the far corner of the net with a neat finish to double Liverpool’s lead. 4.25pm BST 25 mins Who else, eh? 4.24pm BST 23 mins That’s the end of the game for Vertonghen. He looked to have hurt himself trying to stop a Liverpool corner a few moments ago and he has been replaced by Dawson. 4.23pm BST 22 mins … and Surez curls it over the bar. 4.23pm BST 21 mins Silly Sigurdsson’s puts his arm to the ball just outside the box and it’s a free-kick to Liverpool. Of all the places to give Liverpool a free-kick. Vertonghen is hurt and has to go off before it is taken. Gerrard and Surez are behind it … 4.20pm BST 19 mins Another corner to Liverpool. Gerrard takes once more. He sends this one in low and hard, with the intention of Sturridge running onto it. Sturridge, however, neglected to perform his part in the routine and Spurs boot the ball to safety. 4.18pm BST 17 mins The first corner of the game. Gerrard takes. Vertonghen gets to it first and clears the danger. Liverpool apply a touch more pressure but Tottenham cope. 4.16pm BST 16 mins Sterling is on fire today. His fancy-dan footwork down the right has Rose’s head all in a tizzy. Meanwhile, Coutinho has just volleyed past Lloris’ post after Surez set him up. Only one team in this so far. 4.14pm BST 14 mins Chadli gives away a throw in his own half. Sterling gets the ball and looks to attack but he is forced back. Liverpool switch the ball to the left side and back to Coutinho. He looks up and sees Henderson rush beyond the Tottenham back-line but the pass is slightly overhit and Lloris comes out to gather it. 4.12pm BST 12 mins Oh Spurs.52 – Liverpool have scored 52 first half PL goals this season; 12 more than Spurs have managed in total. Power. 4.11pm BST 9 mins Every chance they get, Spurs are giving the ball back to Liverpool who really look up for it today. Their latest attack comes from a good Surez run down the left. He chipped the ball over for Sturridge in the box at the back post. However, it was an inch or two too high for his striking partner’s head. 4.07pm BST 6 mins Still at least Tottenham have some time to get back into the game eh? Meanwhile, a long ball over the top found Surez in the box. He tried to wrong-foot Kaboul but the defender did just enough to nick the ball away from the Liverpool man’s toe. 4.05pm BST Despite Spurs getting us going, Liverpool gathered possession soon enough. They passed and passed some more, forcing the away side to do some early chasing. They worked the ball from the centre out to Sterling on the right. Johnson overlapped him and, once he had the ball at foot, he ghosted past Eriksen like he wasn’t there. He then squared the ball low and hard across the box. Kaboul, his feet all in a muddle, could not deal with it and ended up back-heeling the ball into his own net. 4.02pm BST Well that didn’t take long. 4.00pm BST 1 min We are off. Tottenham get us going and they start playing from the left to the right. 3.58pm BST The teams are in the tunnel, they are, rather pleasingly, in their home kits and they and we are ready to go. The sun is shining almost as hard as the home fans are singing and the conditions are perfect. Are we all sitting comfortably? Good. 3.51pm BST From our man in the stands.Oh the noise. This is May 2005, this is belief. 3.48pm BST Back to the cheese banter. “May I be the first pedant to point out that a pendant doesnt know anything about cheese!” says John Penton. 3.45pm BST Out on the Anfield pitch, the Liverpool side are warming up with a spot of piggy-in-the-middle with Jordan Henderson pulling off rabonas like there is no tomorrow. It looks a bit like this. 3.42pm BST “Much like a letter to the Fiver, may I be the first of 1057 pendants to point out that soft cheese actually doesn’t shred particularly well?” asks Joe Pearson. You may. 3.17pm BST Let’s get Tottenham’s bad news out of the way at the start. Adebayor has failed to recover in time from his heel injury and so Soldado starts up front. In fact, Adebayor does not even manage to make the bench today. One who does make the bench though is Harry Winks. The 18-year old last spotted playing and scoring in the under-21′s 2-0 victory over Arsenal on Friday is doing so for the very first time in his fledgling Tottenham career. Liverpool, meanwhile, name the same side that took on Sunderland but with one exception, as Sterling comes in for Allen presumably Rodgers’ sees his speed and movement causing Tottenham plenty of problems. This is a side, of course, which contains, Surez and Sturridge, who have 48 league goals between them this season. That is eight more goals than Spurs entire squad put together have scored. Those teams in full then are:Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Flanagan; Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho; Sterling, Sturridge, Surez. Subs: Jones, Allen, Aspas, Sakho, Lucas, Cissokho, Moses. 3.00pm BST “Memories,” wrote P. G. Wodehouse, “are like mulligatawny soup in a cheap restaurant. It is best not to stir them.” This current incarnation of Tottenham would do well to heed this advice ahead of this match for the last time they encountered Liverpool, they were shredded like soft cheese on the sharp side of a grater. Raheem Sterling was excellent that day as was Jordan Henderson. Both teased and tormented Tottenham for 90 minutes perhaps it actually that day that people started to realise just how much both have improved since Brendan Rodgers took over but Luis Surez was even better those two combined and multiplied by 1,000,000. Captaining the side in the absence of Steven Gerrard (who watched on enviously from the pundits’ box), he scored the first, had a hand in the second, had Paulinho sent off, set up Flanagan for the third, scored the fourth (with a delicious dink over Hugo Lloris) and set up Sterling for the fifth one, the icing on Spurs’ extra-large slice of humiliation cake. That result ensured that AVB would never be seen around White Hart Lane and perhaps the Premier League ever again and led to the introduction of the Tim Sherwood era.Enough words have been spewed on Sherwood and his tactics already so let’s not get too bogged down in that all that, eh? However, it is worth repeating and you would hope that Daniel Levy has noticed this that the players are playing for him. He has injected them with a sense of belief and a sense of confidence that quite visibly drained from them on that Sunday afternoon when Liverpool tortured them for the three points. OK, so they crashed out of the Europa League to Benfica but it was noticeable how throughout the match that they kept on attacking, they kept on trying and they came very close to rescuing the situation. The same applies to the match against Southampton last weekend. The Saints had been superior in almost every way for the first 28 minutes and deserved their lead. By that stage, fans, pundits and players could be forgiven for thinking the game was over. Tottenham, however, did not. They almost instantly halved the deficit and once Sherwood had a half-time word in their ears (“We got a little speech at half-time and in the second half we were new guys,” said Christian Eriksen), they came out fighting and they dominated the second half. In the end, they probably deserved all three points. As naive as Sherwood is tactically, there is a lot to be said for and a lot to be earned from having the players on board, just ask AVB or David Moyes.Or just ask Brendan Rodgers. “I have been absolutely blown away by his sessions, his tactics and his maturity in the job and I am learning off him every single day,” trumpeted Gerrard recently. “When you become an older player you look to see how the manager does certain things and he has been fantastic for myself personally. I am sure the rest of the players would echo what I am saying. I am absolutely delighted he is here and I just hope that there is a lot of movement now in Boston because they have got to get him signed up as soon as possible.” (With the exception of these quotes, perhaps the only way for Gerrard to be show his enthusiasm for Rodgers would be to pen a movie script that highlights the Northern Irishman’s virtuous, heroic, nubile side, a sort of film biography idea, a slick Hollywood picture to gloss over his evil rise to power like Bugsy or Working Girl. Or he could get a tattoo of his manager’s face on his chest and do the jersey-over-the-head celebration every time he scores. Other suggestions are very welcome.) And why wouldn’t Gerrard, and the rest of the squad, be so enthusiastic? Rodgers has Liverpool humming like a finely-tuned barbershop quartet. With his tactical tinkering and flexibility (before and during games – you can read Paul Doyle’s excellent take on this right here) producing a weekly serving of swift, sensational, sizzling football, his side are blowing away all in their path, like autumn leaves before a giant wind machine. And even when other sides park the bus, slash the tyres and swallowing the keys, his side still find a way around them. All this means he is taking Liverpool to strange new places. With just seven games to go, they are a point behind the league leaders, Chelsea. Win today and they go top. Also, they have scored more goals than anyone else. Why is this worth noting? Well over the last ten seasons in the Premier League, the title has been taken eight times by the side who scored the most goals.Gerrard, and others, may never get a better shot at it than this season but to do so they will have to keep on winning, starting with this afternoon. Unlike last time though, Tottenham will be playing for their manager and will certainly be no pushovers. The excellent Eriksen will cause plenty of threat to the Liverpool defence drifting in from his nominal position out wide on the left, as will the power and punch of Emmanuel Adebayor, should he be back from injury, of course. Heck, even Roberto Soldado looked decent against Southampton, especially in his link-up play. However, will that rickety Tottenham back-four, so prone to so many simple mistakes (see Kyle Naughton last week for further details) and located so high up the pitch be able to contain the might and movement of SAS and their back-up battalion for the full 90 minutes? Probably not, eh? But you never know. That’s why you should stayed tuned. Your fix of team news is on its way.

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The Guardian

GUARDIAN – Liverpool must fend off title race jitters, says Tottenham’s Tim Sherwood

Sherwood remembers pressure from Blackburn’s 1995 title win ‘We were shot and we managed to get over the line’Tim Sherwood has warned Liverpool that their season could unravel if they fail to cope with the pressure of pushing for the Premier League title. The Tottenham Hotspur manager will take his team to Anfield on Sunday and believes the outcome of that match, and the title race, will depend largely on Liverpool’s ability to fend off the jitters that are already creeping into Brendan Rodgers’ team as they attempt to end the club’s 24-year wait for another English crown.Sherwood has won the title at Anfield more recently than any Liverpool player, having captained the Blackburn Rovers side that lifted the trophy there in 1995 despite losing their final game of the season, 2-1 to Liverpool. Blackburn, in fact, lost three of their final six matches in that season as the tension of the title chase constrained what had been a free-flowing side until then. Sherwood says Liverpool could suffer from a similar bout of nerves.

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