Reds avenge Wembley defeat

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Given that our Capital One Cup defeat was mere days ago, I will admit that I didn’t expect much going into Wednesday night’s (re)match, despite us having won this fixture with ease last season.

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Thankfully my doubts were unfounded and this match was reminiscent; not only of last season, but also 8th May 2012, when the Reds avenged their Wembley cup defeat to Chelsea three days later by annihilating them in the Premier League. Just like Chelsea during their 4-1 loss, City were lacklustre and barely put up a fight while the Reds were determined throughout and greatly impressed me with their energy and enthusiasm.

I am very happy with our 3 well deserved points – it’s just a pity that we were unable to churn out a similar performance on Sunday evening. Hopefully though, the Reds are able to capitalise on their recent Premier League form and continue playing this way in their upcoming Europa League fixtures against Manchester United as well as in their next EPL match.

However, garnering a top 4 spot this season will be nothing short of miraculous given the teams vying for second, third and fourth place as in my opinion, Leceister City are going to win the league.⚽🏆

I can only live in hope…and keep my fingers crossed.
#COYMR #YNWA

MATCH STATS
Stadium: Anfield
Attendance: 43,597
Referee: Martin Atkinson

Liverpool FT Possession 55%

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Manchester City FT Possession 45%

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Jurgen Klopp: That Liverpool win can only be described by one word

Bloodsugar❤Natz⚽

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Capital One Cup semi-final second leg – Tuesday, 26 January 2016

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Liverpool (56% possession FT) 0 – 1 Stoke City (44% possession FT)

Stadium: Anfield
Attendance: 43,091
Referee: J Moss
Opposition manager: Mark Hughes
Starting Line-up: 22 Mignolet, 4 Touré, 17 Sakho, 18 Moreno, 38 Flanagan, 7 Milner, 14 Henderson (captain), 20 Lallana, 21 Lucas, 23 Can, 11 Firmino
Substitutes used: Benteke on for Henderson at 58’, Allen on for Touré at 85’, Ibe on for Flannagan at 105’

Match report: Penalty shoot-out

I. Our 5 goals at Norwich felt like it had all been a dream whilst watching this game as we appeared almost hesitant in attack, with none of the players seeming willing to take a chance. Our attempts at goal were sparse, with only Can and Henderson attempting long range shots (the attempts I love to hate) which did nothing to test Jack Butland during the first half. Arnautovic’s goal (his 10th goal this season) at 45’+1 was blatantly offside but put Stoke level in the tie (Aggregate 1-1). The start of the second half saw Firmino hit the posts, however, aside from a short-lived surge of energy, the opposition appeared the more determined team. After an additional 30 minutes the match ended with a win on paper for Stoke (LIV 0 – 1 STK) – their first victory at Anfield since 1959. Before Tuesday, Liverpool had never lost a League Cup semi-final leg at Anfield and Stoke had played Liverpool 7 times in the League Cup, losing 6 and drawing 1.

II. Joe Allen seems to be on his way to becoming our super sub, after clinching the equaliser against Arsenal at 90’ a few weeks ago when he came on for Can then in the 82nd minute. This time around he stepped up to take what would be the decisive penalty after Marco Muniesa’s attempt was saved by Mignolet. I reckon Joe Allen had better not entertain any plans to shave off that beard as we may very well see him live up to the ‘Welsh Pirlo’ moniker under the tutelage of Klopp. The return of Flanagan reminded us what we had been missing with his strong tackling, positioning and almost scoring the winner in the last 15 minutes of normal time.

III. Liverpool had their first penalty shootout 42 years ago – a 6-5 win against Leeds in the 1974 Charity shield and have now been involved in 17 of these nail biting, nerve-wracking match deciders. They continued their incredible penalty shootout record, with their 6-5 penalty shootout win (their 14th!) against Stoke. Mignolet saved the penalties of Crouch and Muniesa which allowed Joe Allen to take the decisive penalty and win it for Liverpool.

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Opposition Goal: Marko Arnautovic 45’+1
PENALTIES TAKEN:
STK Jon Walters 0 – 1
LIV Adam Lallana 1 – 1
STK Peter Crouch (saved) 1 – 1, LIV Emre Can (missed) 1 – 1
STK Glen Whelan 1 – 2
LIV Christian Benteke 2 – 2
STK Ibrahim Afellay 2 – 3
LIV Roberto Firmino 3 – 3
STK Xherdan Shaqiri 3 – 4
LIV James Milner 4 – 4
STK Marco van Ginkel 4 – 5
LIV Lucas Leiva 5 – 5, STK Marc Maniesa (saved) 5 – 5
Joe Allen 6 – 5 to win shootout

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Man of the Match: Mamadou Sakho

 

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Hold Nothing Back ~ In my opinion

Times, they are a changin’…

Maybe it’s time our rose-tinted outlook did too. When everything is different, can we as Liverpool Football Club (LFC) supporters really stay the same? Should we? If change is as good as a holiday, LFC supporters are in need of a sabbatical.

Being a bad loser by nature, a Liverpool loss (or those draws when we should have won outright), usually ruins my entire day. Thusly our recent Premier League loss to Manchester United, otherwise known as the jammiest club in the Premier League, left me feeling completely hollowed out. This time around though, it wasn’t so much our loss that got to me, but rather the fact that our Liverpool side was unable to beat a Manchester United who were as wooden as Louis van Gaal’s resting facial expression.

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The Merseyside Reds appeared almost unaware of United’s ample weaknesses as this would surely have resulted in an achievable win. Instead, Liverpool’s game made it seem as though they had been living in a protective bubble for the current season’s duration and played as though they were unaware that Manchester United’s lack of form led to subsequent Premier League losses during December, namely to Bournemouth, Norwich and Stoke. Despite van Gaal’s unimaginative United side continuing their form of offering very little in all aspects of the game other than lulling their opposition and the entire crowd to sleep they remained largely unexposed. Their existing flaws along with their shaky defence was barely tested by Liverpool, who found their ongoing vulnerability to crosses resulting in Wayne Rooney’s smash and grab goal being the match winner as well as United’s only shot on target.

Our ‘style’ of play was as ineffectual as ever, littered with the usual ‘close but no cigar’ moments that have become synonymous with this season’s Liverpool team along with those shots at goal which realistically are too far away from the posts to be successful and yet Henderson, Milner and even Lucas seem unable to stop themselves from trying anyway. Adam Lallana remained true to form with his standard style of play, with the will he, won’t he roundabout dribble being featured and two this could turn things in our favour if he can see it through moments which, as always, did not amount to anything. Jamie Carragher made this on point comment during the match; “The chance Lallana had probably summed up his Liverpool career, he hasn’t scored since May, he’s a £25m signing, an attacking midfielder.”

After the match, many LFC supporters commented that one or two players gave a good performance and as is the norm, many have lamented our missed opportunities. We may have been better than United on match day, but that statement no longer holds water. The current first team players who make up the Manchester United team and the Liverpool FC team are nowhere near the quality or calibre of the men who played for either side a few seasons ago. I have reached a point of no return in my rating of our current first team and have found that as individuals, the majority fit the stock standard footballer mould, which given that this is the Premier League should be a non-negotiable. A Premier League player cannot be anything less than good and so we should not have to lower our standard of expectation, especially not when we have lived through watching Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres (before his decline), Luis Suarez; the list goes on.. It is more than okay to state that the current LFC first team squad is simply not good enough.

Brendan Rodgers’ choices have ultimately set us back at least two to three years and the lack of youth players coming through the ranks of the Academy has become a growing concern over the past three to four years.
As his ghost still roams freely through our current squad options, we as loyal supporters who form an integral part of the Liverpool Family should be accepting of what is, patient for what is to come and grateful that it is not too late for our Premier League Trophy dreams. Jurgen Klopp is absolutely the right man to get us where we know we ought to have been already. All he requires is the time to build his vision, our passionate and unwavering support and of course a transfer budget that allows it all. As a reminder of Klopp’s magic, read my Fresh Liverpool article http://tiny.cc/b0cc8x on the skills he brings to the club as our manager.

Remember that honesty does not have to equal negativity and that as supporters, we do not need to accept mediocrity.

We are Liverpool.

@Bloodsugarnatz

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Gameweek 10 – A round-up (EPL Match: @Home to Southampton)

 

Welcome to the first Football with Natz post. I’ll be providing you with a wrap of Liverpool’s Gameweek – a mini match report of the Premier League fixture against Southampton this past week, which LFC players to choose for your Fantasy League team and Jurgen Klopp’s quote of the week.

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Premier League Gameweek 10: Sunday, 24th October 2015
Liverpool (60% possession FT) 1 – 1 Southampton (40% possession FT)

Stadium: Anfield
Attendance: 44,171
Referee: A Marriner
Opposition manager: Ronald Koeman
Starting Line-up: 22 Mignolet, 2 Clyne, 17 Sakho, 18 Moreno, 37 Skrtel, 7 Milner (c), 10 Philippe Coutinho, 20 Lallana, 21 Leiva, 23 Can, 27 Origi
Subs used: Benteke on for Origi 46’, Firmino on for Lallana 67’ and Ibe on for Coutinho 83’

Roundup:
Our fifth draw in a row, this match should have started with the second half. The first half lacked energy from both sides and the Liverpool players seemed to be cautious in their approach. Benteke’s header, delivered with absolute finesse, broke the frustration of the match and we saw one of Jurgen Klopp’s elated celebrations.

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It seemed Kloppo was on his way to join Rafa – who in 2004 was the last to win his first game at Anfield – when celebration turned into frustration (with me directing incensed expletives at the TV) when Saido Mane equalised in the 86th minute thanks to a lack of defending from our side. Mane received a yellow card in the 90th minute and a second yellow followed in the dying moments of injury time when he tripped up Moreno.

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A poor challenge near the touchline against Bertrand garnered Milner the first yellow of the game, as well as his fifth of the season, which means suspension for at least one game.

All in all, not the ideal match envisioned by many (or me) and the team’s lack of confidence was evident. It would seem the belief needs to find its way into our Red mens hearts and minds to simmer there, as there is still a lot of work to be done, which will be even harder with the wrong mind set. I’m not confident in Adam Lallana’s ability to cope with full throttle given the lack of ground he covers during a game. Klopp evidently had that in mind when he switched Coutinho to the wing (who also had a rather docile game) and Lallana was used behind Divock Origi; who was barely in the match and failed to make an impact, let alone an impression on me. Hopefully we will see more of Firmino in the games to come. I am anxiously awaiting the return of our Jordan Henderson, as his run and work rate was meant to be played with Klopp’s “heavy metal” philosophy.

  • Liverpool goal: Christian Benteke at 77′
  • Opposition goal: Saido Mané at 86′
  • Man of the Match: Christian Benteke

    Fantasy Football & LFC’s reality – Gameweek 10

    My fantasy league team, Pitch Invaders, currently has three (maximum amount per squad) Liverpool players; namely Skrtel, Clyne and Mignolet. I opted to leave Clyne and Mignolet on my bench for yet another week as I favoured Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany who earned me 6 points while West Brom’s Boaz Myhill in goal brought me a total of 8 points.

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Skrtel only added the standard 2 points to my tally. This was for playing a full 90 minutes which up until 86’ was 6 points (4 points for a clean sheet) after we failed to defend our 1-0 lead.

The LFC players who would have added value to your final team score this past weekend are:
*Lucas (3) won six of his eight attempted tackles, made 10 recoveries and five clearances, blocks and interceptions
*Benteke’s (8) stunning header in the 77th earned him maximum bonus points
*Milner (6) provided the assist to Benteke’s goal and made five key passes and two open play crosses to earn bonus points as well, and lost 1 point after receiving his 5th yellow card of the season.

A complete list of the Rules including the points system for the Fantasy League can be found here: FPL Rules

Klopp’s Quote of the Week
In closing, I’d like to end with a quote from our new man at the helm, Jurgen Klopp. Having disarmed the press since his appointment, Klopp comments are insightful, honest and without making promises makes one feel positive for the games that lie ahead.

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“It’s not easy to compare completely different things but in my first season at Dortmund we had 15 draws. If you want, it’s a half win. We didn’t lose. I see the pressure on the players, missing this chance or that chance.
But it’s only important that you always make the right decision in the right moment. They have the quality to finish, to create chances.”

We Go Again in our Premier League game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge at 12H45PM BST on Saturday, 31 October 2015 and our Europa League and the 2nd leg of our Group stage meeting with Rubin Kazan next Thursday, 5 November 2015 at 6PM BST at the Kuban Stadium in Russia.

Until next time,
Y.N.W.A.