Saturday, 21 April 2012

FA cup final - How Liverpool got there

Will Gerrard be lifting this trophy again on May the 5th?

Liverpool's last FA cup win was in 2006 in which the final was dubbed the 'Steven Gerrard' final. Since then though, Liverpool have struggled to make an impact on the FA cup, losing out in the 3rd round three times. It was said right from the off this season that Liverpool were going to take both cup competitions very seriously and this has been proven by reaching the final of both competitions.
In a way this has papered over the cracks of the poor league form but the way I'm looking at it is that Kenny Dalglish will have taken us the Wembley not once, not twice but three times in his first full season in charge which is quite a feat really.
It seems like a long time ago Liverpool were playing Oldham on a cold Friday night was which was marred by the false accusations. I'm going to remind everyone how Liverpool reached the FA cup final with a round by round little match report.

Third Round

Liverpool 5-1 Oldham

The team - Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Coates, Aurellio, Maxi, Spearing, Gerrard, Shelvey, Bellamy, Kuyt.

With the Luis Suarez racism verdict at boiling point and with Liverpool losing at Man City 3-0 just three days before the build up to the match wasn't ideal. This was shown in the first half hour as Oldham came out of the traps looking up for it as Carragher and Coates looking very shakey in particular. Oldham took a deserved lead in the 27th minute as Robbie Simpson scored in front of the kop from 30 years, a career highlight, I'm sure.
This woke Liverpool up as they went up the other end and scored immediately a Shelvey shot took a deflection of Bellamy and found it's way in to the net and then a foul on Maxi in the box allowed Gerrard to score his 2nd goal from his comeback from an ankle infection.
In the second half, it took Liverpool a while to find a 3rd goal but once they did find one, Oldham rolled over. Jonjo Shelvey scored his first goal for the club from a Craig Bellamy cross and then Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll came off the bench to score confidence boosting goals.
The aftermath of the game was ruined by allegations of racial abuse from one of the Liverpool fans toward to Oldham defender Tom Adeyemi. Adeyemi broke down in tears and was visibly upset from the abuse from a fan (who later had all charges cleared).

Fourth Round

Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United

The team - Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique, Maxi, Carragher, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Carroll.

The draw for the fourth round threw up a tasty tie at Anfield. With the suspended Luis Suarez watching on from the crowd, there was worries there could be a bad taste in the atmosphere. Liverpool's performance stopped this from happening as they knocked out their big rivals with a late winner. Liverpool started the game in the ascendency as under pressure keeper David De Gea was at fault for Agger's header which gave Liverpool the lead.
United hit back though before half time with a ball pulled back to Park who thumped the ball in to the net to leave the game finely balanced. The turning point in a tight game was both teams substitutions as United withdrew the instrumental Scholes and Liverpool brought on attacking players in the form of Kuyt and Bellamy. In the 88th minute Andy Carroll flicked on a long ball to send Kuyt running through who gladly finished to send the Kop wild and Liverpool in to the fifth round much to Ferguson's annoyance.

Fifth Round

Liverpool 6-1 Brighton

The team - Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique, Henderson, Adam, Gerrard, Downing, Carroll, Suarez.

With the Carling cup final a week away it would have been seen as good time to rest and rotate but Kenny Dalglish put out a near full strength side against the Championship outfit Brighton. When Skrtel headed an opener in the fifth minute many thought that the game was over there and then but Brighton hit back well and Lua Lua hammered home a free kick from 25 yards. An Bridcutt own goal just before half time gave Liverpool the advantage again.
Brighton started to tire in the second half and a great Stewart Downing cross to set Andy Carroll up for his second goal in the competition put Liverpool 3-1 up. Two more comic own goals from Brighton meant Liverpool were leading 5-1 with another 15 minutes to go. There was still time for Suarez to miss a penalty and score a tap in which meant it really was a rout.


Liverpool 2-1 Stoke

The team - Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Enrique, Maxi, Gerrard, Spearing, Downing, Suarez, Carroll.

With Liverpool coming off the back of a Steven Gerrard inspired win over Everton in midweek, confidence was high around Anfield. When Luis Suarez curled in a magnificent shot from the edge of the box to give Liverpool the lead another rout was on the cards but Stoke came back well and from a controversial corner ex-red Peter Crouch headed home from 6 yards to pull Stoke level.
The second half was a tight affair with not many chances being created the one clear cut one Liverpool did create was put away well by Stewart Downing to give Liverpool the lead and ultimately the game in the 57th minute. Liverpool were becoming the 'cup kings'.


Liverpool 2-1 Everton

The team - Jones, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Henderson, Spearing, Gerrard, Downing, Suarez, Bellamy.

The all Mersey affair at Wembley was brilliant for the City. Everton perhaps coming in as slight favourites as Liverpool's form running up to the game had been awful despite doing the double over the blues. The game started off slowly with a few half chances for each side. The opening goal came for Everton as a glaring defensive error from Liverpool cost them as Jelavic took advantage of a mix up between Agger and Carragher to put Everton in front.
Liverpool really did come out firing in the second half but Everton kept that at bay as Carroll wasted a great chance at the back post. Liverpool did finally equalise through top scorer Luis Suarez. A horrible error from Sylvain Distin allowed Luis Suarez to run through one on one and put the ball past Howard to put Liverpool back on terms.
Liverpool really were on top now and were making all the running. Carroll missed two more good chances and Kenny brought on Craig Bellamy and Maxi Rodriguez and after Steven Gerrard won a free kick near the corner flag in the 86th minute. Bellamy whipped in a great ball which Andy Carroll's back header in to the corner of the net send the travelling Kop wild.

This means Liverpool will return to Wembley in two weeks time to take on Chelsea in the FA cup final looking to complete the cup double like they did in 2001. I see no reason why the lads can't make it 3 out 3 at Wembley and make amends for the poor league form.

You can follow me on twitter @AnfieldReds_

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Liverpool's summer signings

Four of Liverpool summer signings picture with Kenny Dalglish

With Liverpool's awful current league form, the summer signings made by the club have come under a lot of scrutiny. In all Liverpool made six signings in the summer but I'm only going to look at the three under a huge amount of pressure at the moment.

Those three being Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing. I'm actually in the rare group of Liverpool fans who thinks they're all decent signings despite a poor run of results. Their combined price tag is £40 million before add ons. Yes, Liverpool paid over the odds but the players aren't responsible for their price tag, it really gets to me when fans use it against them. If a player is having a shocking run of games, it's ok if they cost £5 million but if they cost £20 million it's not? A poor game is a poor game no matter what their price is.

Kenny Dalglish has made an obvious attempt to buy British players if not English. In an attempt to bring back the glory days to Anfield, Kenny took up this policy as looking back through the great Liverpool teams of the past there has been a real British element.

Charlie Adam looked like a deal that might have been done in January but it didn't go through for whatever reason. I wasn't sure if we'd go back in for him but seemed like a decent deal when we did. At the time of signing I'm certain he wasn't meant to be the regular he became. For me the midfield of this season was meant to include Gerrard, Lucas and Meireles with Adam and Henderson to be used more as squad players to get bedded in.

Obviously a lot has changed since then and they've been relied on a lot more than originally hoped. Even so, Charlie Adam's start to his Liverpool career was impressive. He seemed to revel in the role he was playing alongside Lucas but his dip in form coincided with Lucas' injury. He comes in for a lot of criticism for not being creative enough, two facts that disprove this theory completely. He has the most assists out of anyone in the Liverpool side (6) and has created two chances less the Stewart Downing (47).

Saying all that, he has been shocking since the turn of the year and is currently out with an injury but from an outsider looking in, I fear that he's had stage fright. He seems to sometimes be in awe of Steven Gerrard when the two are playing together, which he will quickly have to change.

Jordan Henderson was Liverpool's first summer signing and he was signed early on in the transfer window, which shows he was high on our target list. I'm certain he was never meant to have such a big role in the side this season but for one reason or another he has played almost every game. The problem some of the less thinking fans have is that he doesn't score too many goals or get too many assists, this may make him sound average but he brings a lot more to the side.

It's easy to forget that he's only 21 and this is a massive step up for him. He's only one year older than 'young' Jonjo Shelvey. He's been overawed by Anfield and the Kop this season but this was surely inevitable when a young player has made such a big step up in class. He will be a great player in the future but we have to give him one season to feel his way in to his Liverpool career.

To show that his hard work goes unnoticed, he's got a 83% passing success and a 84% tackle success which isn't bad by anyone's means.

Another problem that Henderson has had this season, is constantly playing out of position. He's a player who's natural position is in the middle where he is very good but he's been shifted out wide right where if I'm honest he's very average. If he can get a run of games in the middle with Steven Gerrard then I don't see how he can't improve, Steven Gerrard just demands class.

The last signing I'm going to look at is in my opinion the most disappointing one. Stewart Downing, 27, has been very disappointing for me. He's an England international and played many seasons at a high level in the premier league, he knows what it's about. This is why the fact he's directly contributed nothing in the league has come at a shock to me. I do feel though that he's been very unlucky to have that stat to count against him as I've seen several sitters missed off his crosses and has been one of the few to be hit by the woodwork curse.

He's got a unfortunate record that he's the player to create the most chances in Europe without making one assist (49). In the recent weeks though he seems to have improved which has been a good sign, it took me a while to realise that he's a confidence player but it appears obvious now. He needs to be playing games to play well he's not one who can come in and out of the side and play well.

There is good reason to have hope and belief that these signings will come through and repay the faith we have shown in them and ease the pressure on Kenny Dalglish.

You can follow me on twitter; @AnfieldReds_

nb all stats used are based on premier league games only.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

What now for LFC?

A picture to sum up our league season.

After another disastrous performance and result in the premier league, which left Liverpool in a battle to stay in the top seven. With another eleven premier league games left and a minimum of one FA cup game. What is there to get excited about for the rest of the season?


The obvious thing that jumps out at you is the possibility of two more Wembley trips and another trophy to add to the cabinet. We have the task of getting past Stoke in the quarter finals first, if we were to get past them and two more opponents to win another trophy this year it would definitely soften the blow of our awful inconsistent league form.  On our day we are the best team in England, this is what cups are all about and why they have suited us this year as it we haven't had to win week in week out.

To end the season with more success would improve the owner's moods when evaluating the season with Kenny and revitalise the player's attitudes when they come back for the new season. It would be seen as the year Kenny Dalglish came back to manage the club he loves and won the cup double in his first season not the year Kenny Dalglish led us to seventh.


Another thing that could give the Kop something to shout about is the youngsters coming through. I'm including Jordan Henderson when I say 'youngsters' he is after all only 21, which many people seem to forget when they blame a poor result entirely on his young shoulders. Jonjo Shelvey should also be seeing a lot more game time in the back end of the season as after he was recalled from his loan spell at Blackpool he has only been given two starts. He impressed in both of these starts and he must be frustrated watching Charlie Adam run his socks off but give very little quality output.

Other youngsters that could be given a chance to excel in the first team are Raheem Sterling and Suso Fernandez who have both really shone in the Next Gen series. They have contributed as much as Stewart Downing has to our Premier league campaign (0 goals, 0 assists). What is there to lose?

If you think back to the end of last season when Kenny gave Spearing, Flanagan and Kelly their chances in the first team and how they have really benefited from that chance. Jay Spearing hasn't looked back and now looks like he has been playing in the Liverpool midfield for years not months. Kelly is just as good as Johnson in my opinion and came without the price tag. Flanagan has struggled to get in the team at right back with Kelly and Johnson both ahead of him in the pecking order but the experience must have undoubtedly have been invaluable.


Playing without pressure can really help some players kick start their Liverpool career. For example, maybe Stewart Downing or Andy Carroll could get in to a purple patch and start playing well which would help them start next season in a decent vein of form. Lucas Leiva is a prime example how of this as he took his good form from last season in to the new one and was brilliant until he picked up his tragic injury.

To conclude, although our league campaign has been ultimately disappointing if we can build and take some form in to the new season all will not be lost. Keep the faith in Kenny and the team.

You can follow me on twitter @AnfieldReds_

Sunday, 4 March 2012

4th Place - Where did it all go wrong?

After Liverpool's defeat to Arsenal on Saturday, 4th place is surely out of reach now. This will mean another season without Champions League football at Anfield which is obviously disappointing. After thinking for some time I have come up with the 5 main reasons our Premier League form has been off the mark this season.


Liverpool have dropped 19 points at home this season, this is more then the last two seasons combined. 8 draws and only one defeat. The draws have really killed any type of momentum we have had in the race for 4th. Drawing with the likes of Stoke, Swansea, Norwich, Sunderland and Blackburn has been really frustrating for the fans. Of course most of those teams have just parked the bus and been tough to break down but that's what you expect.

I think that the new signings have struggled to realise what it's like to play in front of the Kop. There has been no late winners, no back to back home wins to get the fans excited. Just missed chance after missed chance after missed chance. Anfield this season hasn't been the fortress it normally is and this will have to change in the future if we are going to get anywhere.

Larsson celebrates after securing Sunderland a point.


Liverpool haven't had too many suspensions or injuries just the ones they have had were to crucial players. Right from the start we without the captain Steven Gerrard. He missed the first five weeks of the season with a groin injury which kept him out the back end of the last season. Once he was back he somehow managed to pick up an ankle injury at the beginning of October which kept him out for another two and a half months.

With our captain missing a large part of the season we were always going to struggle but one man had really stepped up in his absence. Lucas was having a fantastic season until at the end of November he did his knee cruciate ligament which ruled him out for the season. This was a huge shame as he had really been excellent and the shining light of the Liverpool team.

Just when Stevie was coming back to full fitness, Luis Suarez was given his infamous eight match ban which ruled him out for a month. In that period, Liverpool played four premier league games and only won

Lucas sustains a nasty injury which will keep him out for the season.


If there was a trophy for missing chances we would definitely win it. With the worst conversion rate in the league of 8%, Liverpool have only scored 30 goals. To put that in to perspective, Robin Van Persie has scored 25 goals on his own in the league. Chances have come and chances have gone. Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy are our top goal scorers in the league with 6 goals each. When you see Ba, Rooney, Rvp and Aguero all have 20+ then 6 is a really pathetic total.

Luis Suarez is a truly fantastic player, some of the things he does are unbelievable but for the amount of chances he makes/gets he really needs to score more. In saying that the midfield really need to chip in. Between Gerrard, Adam and Henderson there is 5 league goals. That is just not good enough.

Another chance goes a begging.


Liverpool have hit the woodwork a outstanding 21 times. Sometimes you need a bit of luck and when it's come to shooting it just hasn't been with us. Against Arsenal we hit the post twice, for me we should have really scored both of the chances but instead we just added to the tally.

If we could make the goals a couple of inches wider then we would of scored a lot more goals. Suarez has hit the woodwork 19 times in his 46 games at the club. That is surely some sort of record.

Carroll after he hits the bar against Swansea.

In the league alone we have missed 4 penalties. That's a crazy amount, if those 4 had gone in we would be 5 points better off. That's 3 kicks of a ball going differently and there's 5 more points in the tally. That's how close we have been this season. Would Gerrard have scored those penalties? Probably ... that's an easy thing to say though, everyone should really back themselves from 12 yards.

Charlie Adam misses a penalty at the DW.

In conclusion, this season we have made progress under Kenny Dalglish this season. That's not what frustrates the fans, the frustrating thing has been how close we have been. If little things had gone our way then we could be sitting in 4th spot right now. I'm keeping the faith in Kenny Dalglish and I'm backing him to get us in to 4th next season.

YNWA @AnfieldReds_

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Carling Cup - Route to the final

With the first domestic English trophy on offer this Sunday, I’m going to analyse and recall how Liverpool got there.
Liverpool had to start their run in the 2nd round of the competition due to the fact there was no European football at Anfield this year. The draw threw up a potentially tricky away game at League 1 Exeter.

Exeter City FC 1-3 Liverpool FC
Carroll scores to silence the Exeter fans.
Team – Reina, Flanagan, Skrtel, Wilson, Robinson, Spearing, Meireles, Henderson, Adam, Maxi, Suarez.
Liverpool showed their intentions right from the first game of the competition as they put an extremely strong side who cruised past Exeter. Early on Raul Meireles broke his collar bone and was subbed for Andy Carroll(this proved to be his last Liverpool game) Jordan Henderson crossed for Luis Suarz to volley in. 2 goals in 3 minutes killed of the game. First Luis Suarez squared to Maxi Rodriguez who tapped in, then Andy Carroll smashed it in to net from just outside the box to kill of the game. Exeter did score through a late penalty but this was just a consolation.
Brighton & Hove Albion FC 1-2 Liverpool FC
Dirk Kuyt scoring his first goal of the season.
Team – Reina, Kelly, Coates, Carragher, Robinson, Lucas, Spearing, Maxi, Kuyt, Suarez, Bellamy.
The third round draw threw up another tricky away game at the Amex. Liverpool were on the back of a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Spurs so a win was crucial. Kenny again named another strong side to dispose of the championship outfit. Liverpool came out the blocks very sharply as Luis Suarez set Craig Bellamy up for his first goal on his return to Liverpool. Luis Suarez then missed two great chances and Craig Bellamy smashed the bar with a 35 yard free kick.
In the second half Steven Gerrard returned from a 6 month absence from football and helped make the 2nd goal which Dirk Kuyt finished off. Just as the previous game, Livepool conceded a late penalty which lost them their clean sheet but they had done enough to get through.
Stoke City FC1-2 Liverpool FC
Luis Suarez celebrates after his superb  goal.
Team – Reina, Agger, Coates, Carragher, Kelly, Lucas, Spearing, Maxi, Henderson, Suarez, Carroll.
Another really tough draw for Liverpool, having already lost at the Britannia earlier on in the season they  had a point to prove. Liverpool went 1-0 down just before half time as a mistake from Sebastian Coates allowed Jonathan Walters to set up Kenwyne Jones to head in. On balance of play this was an undeserved lead as Liverpool had created a couple of really good opportunities.
The second half was all about Luis Suarez as he took the game to Stoke, nutmegging Ryan Shotton before a curling an unstoppable shot in to the bottom corner. As the game looked to be heading to extra time, Jordan Henderson put in a cross straight on to the Uruguayan’s head and routinely headed home to send the travelling Kop and Tony Pulis bonkers (in different senses of course).
Chelsea FC 0-2 Liverpool FC
             The team celebrates Maxi's goal. 
Team – Reina, Kelly, Coates, Carragher, Enrique, Lucas, Spearing, Henderson, Maxi, Carroll, Bellamy.
The quarter-final was Livepool’s 4th game of the competition and the 4th away game in a row, the draw was really being unkind to us! Liverpool has just played Manchester City 48 hours before this game in a really gruelling encounter. Jordan Henderson, Jose Enrique and Lucas Leiva  started both games which is a really impressive feat as they played exceptionally well.
The game did come with one huge downside as in the 70th minute Lucas Leiva went down  with an injury he would not come back from for the rest of the season. He injured his cruciate knee ligaments, this was a massive blow to Liverpool’s season as he had been by far one of the most consistent performers in the team.
Back to that game, the first half was a half of penalties. One that was given to Liverpool and missed by Andy Carroll. One at the other end where Sebastian Coates blocked off David Luiz and it looked like a stone waller but it wasn’t given.
In the second half, Chelsea’s defensive woes came back to haunt them as Craig Bellamy got in down the right and whipped in a delightful cross for Maxi Rodriguez to score from almost the same spot as he did 9 days before. Craig Bellamy assisted the second goal as he put in a world class free kick which Martin Kelly headed home for his first Liverpool goal.

Manchester City FC 0-1 Liverpool FC
Daniel Agger wins a penalty at the Etihad after he is fouled by Stefan Savic of Manchester City.
Team – Reina, Kelly, Agger, Skrtel, Johnson, Spearing, Henderson, Gerrard, Downing, Bellamy, Carroll.
Liverpool were drawn against Manchester City in the semi-final knowing if they could get through a championship team would await in the final. The semi-finals being two legs of course so once Daniel Agger won a penalty early on which Steven Gerrard dispatched it, the game plan was obviously to sit back and take the 1-0.
Liverpool were very effective at keeping their lead but the second half made for very dull watching.
Liverpool FC 2-2 Manchester City FC
Craig Bellamy's goal made sure Liverpool would be returning to Wembley.

Team – Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique, Adam, Henderson, Gerrard, Downing, Bellamy, Kuyt.
Liverpool made it through to the Carling cup final and their first final in 5 years. They didn’t do it the easy way as twice they had to come from behind. Nigel De jong scored in the 30th minute to give City the lead totally against the run of play before Liverpool hit back 10 minutes later as Steven Gerrard scored another penalty against Hart.
In the second half, City again took the lead against the run of play as Aleksandar Kolarov put in a great ball across the 6 yeard box which Eden Dzeko half volleyed home. Liverpool rallied again and with 17 minutes left Craig Bellamy and  Glen Johnson played a one-two in the box before Craig Bellamy curled in to send Kop crazy!
The buzz around the club recently has been amazing and like all Liverpool fans I can’t wait for Sunday’s game. Come on you reds!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

FA Cup

What does the FA cup mean to teams today?
Too many teams, rotate/rest their better players on order of league commitments meaning more to them. This is a huge shame, what happened to the magic of the cup?
The main problem is the money available from getting promoted or staying up. Most teams will sacrifice a cup run to complete their league objective. This is of course understandable but nothing gets the fans going like a good cup run or toppling the favorite. For example, Norwich went to the Hawthorns in the last round and win with a full strength team and then go rest players against Leicester and lose. Ask any Norwich fan and they will tell you they wanted to win the cup.
The trophy that teams should go all out to win.
You can just tell from the excitement it has brought to everyone around our club, Liverpool. We have not won a trophy for coming up 6 years and Kenny knew how much the club needed one so played a strong team throughout the Carling cup including at Exeter away.
More managers should follow the example Kenny has set by making progress in a cup you get the fans onside and can paper over the cracks if the league form is dodgy (as in our case).
I watched the Arsenal game yesterday in which they were very poor. It was practically the same team from the week before which beat Sunderland 2-1 (excluding a cameo from Thierry Henry). You can't blame Arsene Wenger for weakening his side but did the players want to be there?
There was nowhere near the same intensity as what you would expect from an Arsenal side. Too many players ran scared for me and didn't want to fight to get the the quarter finals. In the Premier league game the week before they were all up for it and wanted the 3 points.  What's the difference?
Arsene looks on as Arsenal seems destined to go 7 years without a trophy.
It's currently half time at a proper cup tie between Spurs and Stevenage, both teams want to win. Stevenage effort and aggression is matching Spurs' quality. The fans are really behind the home team and are getting their player's up for it.
Spurs' now know their in a battle, this is what the FA cup should be about. Every game should be tough in the FA cup, no matter who you are.
A good example of this was last year at Old Trafford when Crawley totally outplayed them for 90 minutes and were very unlucky to come out without even a replay. That is what the FA cup is all about, not teams resting their better players and taking the defeat cause they're league form is more important.
It's a shame that the coverage of the FA cup is awful on both channels, ESPN and ITV. The amount of adverts is appalling. Using the FA cup's brand to earn extra money during the ad's break is a massive NO.
The BBC used to be excellent at their punditry and their commentary, its's a great shame their can't afford to pay for the rights. Between the adverts we get, Roy Keane's rants and Robbie Savage's ponytail. It's a great achievement that we all manage to stay awake at half time.
Roy Keane boring us all to death with his rant about gloves.
I hope after writing all this Liverpool don't give us another Reading or Northampton performance and continue to do our cup run's proud.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Getting Started

This is my first of many (hopefully) interesting and inspiring blogs. If anybody who chooses to read this can give me a hand on getting started that would be very helpful.

My blogs will mainly be Liverpool rants with the occasional other topic that bothers me enough to talk about it. I hope they do not put you to sleep too much and that you may actually enjoy reading them.