Saturday, 21 April 2018

Stubborn Baggies Snatch A Point Late On

Sports - Football - Premier League - WBA 2:2 LIV

West Brom came back from two goals down in the last eleven minutes to make it 2-2 and grab a point back from Liverpool in the early kick-off on Saturday at the Hawthorns.

Danny Ings scored his first Liverpool goal since the 4th October 2015 Merseyside derby to give the Reds the lead just four minutes into the match.

Sadio Mané produced a fine move on the left in the build-up, to cross to Georginio Wijnaldum who set up the former Derby player for the opener.

The Reds had made five changes ahead of their Champions League semi-final first leg on Tuesday, whilst the Baggies remained unchanged from their win at Old Trafford last weekend.

The home side had plenty of chances to come back into the match before and after the break but a certain Egyptian spoilt that possibility.

Sub Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set up Mohamed Salah just over six minutes after coming on, the top scorer bouncing the ball up and past everyone from close range to make it 0-2 to the visitors.

With that goal Salah equalled Luis Suárez’s LFC record of 31 Premier League goals in a single season.

Jake Livermore pulled one back for the bottom side with just over ten minutes to go, netting the rebound off a Loris Karius save from a couple of yards out, the Red keeper not happy.

Ahmed El-Sayed Hegazi got away with a couple of reckless tackles, first with a late challenge on Ings earlier on (followed by a punch in the stomach), then elbowing Salah in the buildup to the home side’s goal, referee Stuart Attwell not seeing and/or having any of it!

With a couple of minutes to go, a soft free kick, taken by skipper Chris Brunt on the left, was headed in by Salomón Rondón to make it 2-2 and complete a perfect comeback for Darren Moore’s men.

The caretaker coach could not have asked for a better reaction, Jürgen Klopp’s side never really got on top of things, the German blaming the dry pitch whilst the home side created more of less and grabbed a point back from the Red clutches.

It’s maybe too little too late to avoid relegation for West Brom, but at least gives them some encouragement to look forward to something next season, a side that actually gels and plays together! 

Moore has won five points from his three Premier League games in charge (W1 D2 L0), one more than Alan Pardew won in his last 11 games for the Baggies (W1 D1 L9). 

Meanwhile it was a wake-up call for Liverpool ahead of their European clash against Roma on Tuesday, they have to take more care and concentration at the back to not make all the class and sparks at the front go to waste!

HT Stats: WBA 0-1 LFC
Possession: 30%-70%
Shots: 4-5
On target: 1-2
Corners: 5-4
Fouls: 5-0

FT Stats: WBA 2-2 LFC
Possession: 38%-62%
Shots: 13-9
On target: 6-3
Corners: 7-4
Fouls: 12-5
Yellow cards: 0-1

West Brom Goals: Livermore 79’ & Rondón 88’.

Liverpool Goals: Ings 4’ & Salah 72’.

West Brom Team: 1 Foster; 3 Gibbs (17 Burke 76’), 26 Hegazi, 25 Dawson, 2 Nyom; 14 McClean (6 Evans 71’), 11 Brunt (c), 8 Livermore, 10 Phillips; 19 Rodriguez (4 Robson-Kanu 89’); 9 Rondón. 4-4-1-1
Subs not used: 5 Yacob, 13 Myhill, 20 Krychowiak, 28 Field.

Liverpool Team: 1 Karius; 18 Moreno (booked 69’), 17 Klavan, 4 van Dijk, 12 Gomez; 7 Milner, 14 Henderson (c), 5 Wijnaldum; 19 Mané (21 Oxlade-Chamberlain (65’), 28 Ings (9 Firmino 65’), 11 Salah (6 Lovren 84’). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 22 Mignolet, 26 Robertson, 29 Solanke, 66 Alexander-Arnold.

Referee: Stuart Attwell
Man of the match: Matt Phillips
Ground: The Hawthorns
Attendance: 24,520

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 34

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 34

The 34th week of the Premier League action saw:

29 goals - most by Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Liverpool & Man City = 3 each
236 shots - most by Liverpool = 20
80 on target - most by Crystal Palace = 8
108 corners - most by West Ham = 10
230 fouls - most by Stoke = 21
39 yellow cards - most by Southampton = 5
0 red cards 
1 penalty - Gündogan for Man City

What a game! Unlike last week, this weekend kicked of with a cracker at St Mary’s. Southampton could not have asked for a better start after going two goals up thanks to Dušan Tadić (21’) and Jan Bednarek (60’), Chelsea just chasing shadows, the home side in total control. However, a crazy eight minutes in the last quarter saw three goals, substitute Olivier Giroud with a brace (70’ & 78’) and Eden Hazard (75’) completing a perfect comeback for the Blues, stunning and silencing the Saints. What a turnaround. And more goal-fests were on their way, see below.
Crystal Palace and Brighton enjoyed a love-hate relationship with set pieces in their clash at Selhurst Park - seeing four goals netted in the opening quarter!!! And that was not all, see below.

What a team! Burnley are moving closer to Europa League qualification recording their fifth consecutive win with two goals in three minutes in the opening nine minutes by former Fox Chris Wood (6’) and Kevin Long (9’), Jamie Vardy (72’) pulling one back eventually but Leicester were nowhere, wasteful, too little too late, just like last week, a record eighth time the Yorkshire man has scored and lost this season. Man of the match Nick Pope did a brilliant job keeping and frustrating the hell out of the 2016 champions.
Manchester City ended Spurs’ 14-match unbeaten run beating the Londoners confidently 1-3 at Wembley in the late late kick-off on Saturday, bouncing back from their Champions League exit against Liverpool and leaving them on the brink of winning the Premier League. See below who served them the title on Sunday.

What a man! Mohamed Salah (69’) headed in his 30th league goal, 40th of the season in all competitions, after Sadio Mané (7’) netted his 10th and 17th respectively and Roberto Firmino (90’) finished the game off with his 15th and 25th respectively, to make it Liverpool 3-0 against Bournemouth at Anfield. That takes the front trio’s total to 55 goals in the league, 82 all round, the Reds moving up to third overtaking Tottenham after their defeat against Man City. And that’s the eighth clean sheet in the last 12 games, five conceded, 29 scored by Jürgen Klopp's men, the only unbeaten team at home left in all four divisions. Mind-blowing! 
West Brom caretaker boss Darren Moore absolutely dwarfed Manchester United manager José Mourinho, not just in statue but with the teams’ contrasting performances as well. Watching the match, you would have never have guessed it was at Old Trafford, the bottom side dominated play and didn’t let the Red Devils into the game, Jay Rodriguez (73’) heading in the winner that handed Manchester City the title for the third time in seven years. I’m sure Sir Alex Ferguson was wondering who/what/why he was watching and seeing, whilst Pep Guardiola’s golfing afternoon most certainly turned so much sweeter, becoming the first Spaniard to win the English title. And with five games to spare they equalled the English top-flight record of United (1907-08 & 2000-01) and Everton (1984-85) of being crowned the earliest champions! Congratulations to the Citizens, definitely simply the best this season! 

What a goal! Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha’s second was a lovely finish, raising and heading the ball in acrobatically, to make it 3-1 after just 24 minutes against Brighton. José Izquierdo made it five goals in under 35 minutes with a sublime curl into the bottom corner to make it 3-2. Game on!!! The scoreline stayed that way though after the all-guns-blazing firing start taking Roy Hodgson’s men to only their second win in the last 11 games and six points clear of the drop zone.
Swansea’s Kyle Naughton’s own goal gave Everton the lead against the run of play in Wales (43’), off his face, it was a bit bizarre, the home side thinking they’ve cleared it, the ref’s watch proving differently. Jordan Ayew grabbed a goal and point back for the Swans (71’) but it will still have felt like two points dropped, Toffees boss Big Sam praising Wayne Rooney for his performance, much in contrast to last week’s Merseyside derby tantrum.
Substitute Tom Ince left it later than late to find a last-minute winner against Watford (90’+1’), slotting in Mathias Jørgensen’s fine cut back to record the Tigers’ first win in six. Crucial goals and points all round in the relegation battle, this result taking Huddersfield seven points clear of the bottom three.
And it was all about the subs at West Ham too, Peter Crouch netting for Stoke after Joe Hart spilled Xherdan Shaqiri’s shot (79’) before Andy Carroll grabbed a point back with a fine volley (90’) coming off the bench in his first game since January. It was a late rescue after the home side already saw three goals disallowed, the result leaving the Potters in 19th, the end of their 10-year PL stint edging closer and closer, the Hammers happier in 14th, seven points safe from the drop zone.

What the hell?! Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso was lucky not to see red for his challenge on Saint Shane Long, Mark Hughes was not happy, Antonio Conte saw nothing of course. Yeah, rrrrright.
Newcastle recorded their first home win against Arsenal since 10 December 2005 ending a losing streak of ten games with their 2-1 comeback win at St James’ Park on Sunday thanks to Ayoze Pérez (29’) and Matt Ritchie (68’) after Alexandre Lacazette (14’) had opened the scoring for the visitors. The Gunners continued their miserable away run remaining winless on the road in 2018 - losing five successive away league games for the first time since 1984. Salud to Rafael Benítez, his club should be safe in 10th, 13 points clear of the drop; same old misery for Arsène Wenger, stuck in sixth, Burnley sneaking up on them in seventh. Merde.

My Predictions - Actual Results
Southampton 1:2 Chelsea - 2:3
Burnley 1:1 Leicester - 2:1
Crystal Palace 1:1 Brighton - 3:2
Huddersfield 0:0 Watford - 1:0
Swansea 2:1 Everton - 1:1
Liverpool 4:1 Bournemouth - 3:0
Tottenham 1:1 Man City - 1:3
Newcastle 1:2 Arsenal - 2:1
Man United 2:0 West Brom - 0:1
West Ham 1:1 Stoke City - 1:1

Click here for last week’s Premier League Picks.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Red Over Blue Again & Into CL Semis

Sports - Football - Champions League - MCI 1:2 LIV

Liverpool booked their place in the Champions League semi-final for the first time in a decade after coming back from behind to beat Manchester City 1-2 in the quarter-final second leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night, thrashing them 1-5 on aggregate. 

Mohamed Salah started for the Reds after missing out the goalless Merseyside derby on Saturday due to injury, whilst the Citizens made four changes to the side that lost the mad Manchester derby at the weekend with Sergio Agüero on the bench.

And the home side could not have asked for a better start after their shock in the first leg at Anfield, Virgil Van Dijk losing the ball looking for a free kick, former Red Raheem Sterling ripping through the visitors, given too much space to run and provide Gabriel Jesus who netted the opener after just one minute and 57 seconds! Too easy!

Kevin De Bruyne sent a chance high soon after, before Sadio Mané and Nicolas Otamendi collided, City keeper Ederson Moraes getting involved and pushing the Senegalese again and again, both names were added to the referee's book after just 14 minutes.

It was a feisty, breathtaking start, the home side dominating and pressing, testing the visitors again and again, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren and Andrew Robertson dealing and coping well with all the pressure, clearing the ball again and again, top class.

Sterling went down too easy too many times, desperately looking for trouble against Robertson, the referee had a word, whilst Alexander-Arnold and Bernardo Silva were cautioned for choking Leroy Sané and verbal protests respectively.

Roberto Firmino was also booked for catching De Bruyne too late, the Belgian too quick for the Brazilian striker on the counter before Liverpool finally got their first shot on target with nearly 40 minutes on the clock, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain serving Ederson an easy catch.

The first half ended as crazy as it started, Bernardo Silva hitting the bar before Jesus' shot was blocked, James Milner with the last touch and Loris Karius nowhere near, Sané netting the rebound, but the flag was up, goal disallowed.

The Ox and Salah combined well in the final seconds before the interval, a nice one-two and rare Red combo attack, but the chance went just high. It stayed 1-0 at half-time without any time added on.

Spanish referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz probably needed the break more than anyone else after a crazy 45 minutes, City boss Pep Guardiola was not happy with the officials and sent to the stands from the restart, obviously having taken his protests too far.

Jürgen Klopp could be glad it was only 1-0 but surely needed the Reds to step up if they did not want to collapse under all the pressure and after having worked so hard. And they didn't. Quite the opposite.

Their Egyptian star shined once again, beating Ederson with a lovely move and finish after collecting the ball off a falling Mané in the box, making it 1-1 with his 10th European goal and 39th in all competitions eleven minutes after the break.

Guardiola communicated with his coaching staff to make changes, Agüero and Ilkay Gündogan were brought on, the home side looking to make their continuous dominance count, but to no avail.

Firmino gave the Reds the lead with just under a quarter of an hour to go, 1-2 on the night, 1-5 on aggregate, his 24th goal of the season after Otamendi gave the ball away and Fernandinho backed away, breaking more European records.

The front duo of Salah and Firmino have both scored more goals in a single European Cup/Champions League campaign for Liverpool than any other player in the club's history (10 each = 20).

These two goals bring the Reds' total to 33 goals in the Champions League this season, the most by an English side in a single campaign.

It was just not City's night, seeing another goal disallowed for offside, correctly this time, Sané mistiming his runs too regularly, no wonder the officials kept raising their flags. 

It stayed 1-2, the Reds' persistence paying off and breaking down the Citizens once again, making it three wins out of three meetings, to reach their 18th European semi-final.

City had scored three or more goals in 12 out of their 26 home games this season, so, they are more than capable to come back from three goals down, but Klopp's men were able to stop them.

Liverpool have only lost by three or more goals three times under Klopp:
Watford 3-0 (2015)
Tottenham 4-1 (2017)

The German made sure that didn't happen again this time, recording his seventh win against Guardiola, the first time the Catalonian has lost three times in a row since May 2015 with Bayern.

Next on the list for the Reds are Bournemouth at Anfield Saturday evening, surely the Kop will be bouncing still after this display - ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ! :-D

Man City Goal: de Jesus 2’.

Liverpool Goals: Salah 56’ & Firmino 77’.

Match Stats: MCFC 1-2 LFC
Possession: 68%-32%
Shots: 20-5
On target: 3-3
Corners: 9-2
Fouls: 5-7
Yellow cards: 2-4

Man City Team: 31 Ederson (booked 14’); 14 Laporte, 17 De Bruyne, 25 Fernandinho; 30 Otamendi, 2 Walker; 7 Sterling, 33 de Jesus, 21 D Silva (c) (10 Agüero 66’), 20 B Silva (booked 30’) (8 Gündogan 74’); 19 Sané. 3-2-4-1
Subs not used: 1 Bravo, 4 Kompany, 18 Delph, 35 Zinchenko, 47 Foden.

Liverpool Team: 1 Karius; 26 Robertson, 4 van Dijk (booked 65’), 6 Lovren, 66 Alexander-Arnold (booked 29’) (2 Clyne 81’); 5 Wijnaldum, 7 Milner (c), 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain; 19 Mané (booked 14’), 9 Firmino (booked 35’) (17 Klavan 81’), 11 Salah (28 Ings 89’). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 18 Moreno, 22 Mignolet, 29 Solanke, 58 Woodburn.

Referee: Antonio Miguel Matheu Lahoz
Man of the match: Mohamed Salah
Ground: Etihad Stadium
Attendance: 53,461

Click here for my last LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, Sky Sports app, Twitter, BT Sport and beIN sports match coverage.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 33

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 33

The 33rd week of the Premier League action saw:

29 goals - most by Man United & Arsenal = 3 each
220 shots - most by Chelsea = 23
74 on target - most by Southampton = 8
96 corners - most by Bournemouth = 11
188 fouls - most by Stoke City = 19
34 yellow cards - most by Man City = 6
3 red cards - Pröpper for Brighton, Stephens for Southampton, El Neny for Arsenal
0 penalties

What a game! The weekend started with Merseyside derby disappointment, a goalless training game at Goodison Park, click here for my full match report! To Manchester madness in the evening, it was a game of two halves all right!!! City were bossing it in the first half, Vincent Kompany and İlkay Gündoğan putting the Citizens on top and it could have been so much more, no reply whatsoever from the Red Devils. Until the second half, two goals in two minutes by man of the match Paul Pogba (53' & 55') and Chris Smalling with just over 20 minutes to go completed the comeback for the visitors. Pep Guardiola's men had more chances, including substitute Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling, but the woodwork and David de Gea saved the day for José Mourinho's team. That's the blue side of Manchester's title celebrations postponed for now, whilst the red part widened the gap to their Scouser rivals in third place.

What a team! Newcastle recorded their third Premier League win on the trot beating Leicester thanks to goals from Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Pérez, Jamie Vardy pulling one back late on. More below. Boss Rafa Benítez feels his side are "nearly" safe, in tenth place, ten points from the drop zone, with a game in hand, I think Rafa is right with his assumption. Muy bien. The Foxes meanwhile, have lost momentum, remaining stuck in eighth, six points behind Burnley in seventh after their 1-2 comeback at Watford. The two sides meet next weekend, a win is a must for Claude Puel's side if they want to stay in the race for Europa League qualification. A far cry from the title-winning side two years ago... Très triste!

What a man! Christian Eriksen's brace helped Tottenham to their sixth consecutive league win consolidating their place in the top four by beating Stoke 1-2 increasing the home side's relegation fears stuck in 19th, four points from safety. Swansea meanwhile came from behind to grab a point at West Brom, the Baggies ending their eight-game run of straight defeats in Darren Moore's first match as caretaker manager in place of Alan Pardew after just 21 matches in charge (W3 D5 L14).
Joe Hart made a couple of top-class saves for West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, taking two points off Chelsea and bagging their own thanks to sub Chicharito's goal seconds after coming on. The point took the Hammers four points clear of the drop zone in 14th.

What a goal! Joshua King's last-minute goal for Bournemouth nicked a point against Palace after the London side had come back twice at Dean Court! The draw keeps the Eagles in 17th, widening the gap to the drop zone ever so slightly but crucially to three points. A crazy couple of minutes at the Amex Stadium saw Jonas Lössl give Brighton the lead seeing the ball rebound off his head and into his own net before Steve Mounié pounced on Shane Duffy's back pass to equalise for Huddersfield. Davy Pröpper's late sending off gave the visitors some hope of grabbing a late winner, but it stayed 1-1, a crucial point in the relegation battle for the sides in 13th and 16th respectively.
Danny Welbeck scored two and made one, sealing the win for Arsenal, just, 3-2 against Southampton on Sunday, which saw both teams reduced to ten men in injury time. Both sides scraped and scratched, punched and hit, the Gunners dealing the Saints the final blow, it was not an easy watch for either side.

What the hell?! The referees did not make many friends again this weekend!!! Foxes defender Harry Maguire was lucky not to be sent off for his hand on Toon Dwight Gayle's face. The following bust-up didn't help either side. And Leicester's penalty appeal for Paul Dummett's collision with Riyad Mahrez was overlooked/ignored as well. You could argue things evened themselves out... There was a handball before West Brom's goal, which could/should have been a red card in the end. Was it just a bit of luck for the caretaker boss?! And City should have had a penalty after Ashley Young's two-footed tackle on substitute Agüero. Various booking decisions by the officials were very questionable at the Etihad. The derby is a difficult and challenging clash to officiate and keep control over, but come on! The Merseyside derby saw no bookings for the first times since 1992, but there were numerous questionable decisions there as well, clashes, fouls, etc. It was like the referees were just reluctant to make any decisions!!! Did they have any bets on?!

My Predictions - Actual Results
Everton 1:1 Liverpool - 0:0 or my match report
Bournemouth 2:1 Crystal Palace - 2:2
Brighton 2:1 Huddersfield - 1:1
Leicester 1:1 Newcastle - 1:2
Stoke City 1:3 Tottenham - 1:2
Watford 1:1 Burnley - 1:2
West Brom 1:1 Swansea - 1:1
Man City 3:1 Man United - 2:3
Arsenal 3:0 Southampton - 3:2
Chelsea 3:1 West Ham - 1:1

Click here for last week's Premier League Picks.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Goodison Park Enjoys Goalless Derby

Sports - Football - Premier League - EVE 0:0 LIV

Liverpool have taken their unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions against Everton - W8 D9 - their longest ever run without defeat against their Merseyside rivals after a goalless draw at Goodison Park in the lunchtime kickoff on Saturday.

Click here for my full ByTheMinute match coverage.

Jürgen Klopp made five changes for the Reds with their eyes on the Champions League second-leg clash against Manchester City next week.

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were the most notable absentees, the prior due to injury, the latter dropped onto the bench.

Big Sam made just one change for the Toffees from the side that lost 3-1 to Manchester City last weekend, Tom Davies replacing Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

The visitors dominated throughout, hardly giving the home side any time on the ball, but pace was noticeably missing on both sides.

Toffee keeper Jordan Pickford denied Dominic Solanke point blank after just over quarter of an hour gone.

On the other side of the pitch, Loris Karius punched Yannick Bolasie's magnificent curl full-stretch out for a corner halfway through the first half.

After half an hour, man of the match James Milner took a chance from the left, what a take and stop it was, Pickford with another strong save.

As much as Liverpool had the ball, it got more and more frustrating watching kick-about after kick-about, nothing coming from it.

Sadio Mané put a chance high from outside the box just before the break and Virgil van Dijk missed a couple of chances as well,

Bolasie, skipper Phil Jagielka and Seamus Coleman were all guilty of being reckless with their tackling and wasting the rare chances the Toffees got, but the referee kept the book in his pocket.

Wayne Rooney wasn't happy coming off with just under an hour gone, Idrissa Gueye replacing him, but the home side actually improved afterwards and got more into the game.

Coleman and Danny Ings clashed, but referee Michael Oliver just had a word with both captains Jagielka and Jordan Henderson respectively, no cards, no nothing.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Milner with just over 20 minutes to go and tried to replicate his Wednesday Champions League cracker from outside the box, but it wasn't quite the same, going out high for a goal kick.

Cenk Tosun, Theo Walcott and substitute Calvert-Lewin wasted chances from close range late on, Liverpool's defensive changes going for the draw.

It ended goalless, Everton finishing on a high after Liverpool rode the show - plenty of chances missed, wasted and went begging, frustrating to watch.

The second half saw no shots on target by either side and it was only the second Merseyside derby in PL history without a single booking, first since their opening clash in December 1992.

The home side will definitely have been happier with the point, the visitors' heads lost in Europe.

Two points dropped for the Reds, keeping them in third, one point behind the Red Devils in second before their evening kick-off against local rivals City.

HT Stats: EVE 0-0 LIV
Possession: 34%-66%
Shots: 3-7
On target: 1-3
Corners: 2-2
Fouls: 7-2

FT Stats: EVE 0-0 LIV
Possession: 38%-62%
Shots: 6-10
On target: 1-3
Corners: 3-2
Fouls: 12-7

Everton Team: 1 Pickford; 3 Baines, 4 Keane, 6 Jagielka (c), 23 Coleman; 2 Schneiderlin, 10 Rooney (17 Gueye 57'); 7 Bolasie (29 Calvert-Lewin 61'), 26 Davies (54 Baningme 79'), 11 Walcott; 14 Tosun. 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 15 Martina, 19 Niasse, 25 Funes Mori, 33 Joel.

Liverpool Team: 1 Karius; 17 Klavan, 4 van Dijk, 6 Lovren, 2 Clyne; 6 Milner (21 Oxlade-Chamberlain 68'), 14 Henderson (c), 5 Wijnaldum; 19 Mané (9 Firmino 74'), 29 Solanke, 28 Ings (66 Alexander-Arnold 89'). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 22 Mignolet, 63 Masterson, 48 Jones, 64 Camacho.

Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the match: James Milner
Ground: Goodison Park
Attendance: 39,220

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, Sky Sports app, Twitter and SFR coverage.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Reds Shock Citizens 3-0 In Europe

Sports - Football - Champions League - LFC 3:0 MCFC

Liverpool swept Premier League leaders Manchester City aside 3-0 at Anfield, all goals scored in a breathtaking opening 31 minutes, stunning Pep Guardiola's men in their first leg Champions League quarter-final clash on Wednesday night.

Top scorer Mohamed Salah opened the scoring after 12 minutes, pouncing on the rebound from close range after City keeper Ederson denied man of the match Roberto Firmino, netting his 38th goal of the season, ninth in Europe.

Eight minutes later, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain doubled the Reds' lead with a smacker of a strike past Ederson from 20 yards out, James Milner the provider for a record seventh assist in the competition, three more than any other player.

And Sadio Mané completed the dream-start and made it three heading in Salah's cross with just over half an hour gone, making it seven goals in the last eight games for the Senegalese. Pep's face said it all, the Citizens just did not have a clue what hit them.

These three goals brought Liverpool's total in the Champions League to 31, making them the top scoring side this season and recording their biggest tally ever in a single season in the European Cup.

The buildup was massive, the atmosphere was breathtaking, the visitors were not allowed to get a touch on the ball without Jürgen Klopp's men swarming them and the Kop booing them, City sub and former Red Raheem Sterling especially getting it after coming on later on in the game.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson did a brilliant job blocking and denying any chances for the opposition on the wings, frustrating the hell out of Gabriel JesusDavid Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sané and leaving Loris Karius with not much to do.

That was the main difference to their last clash in the league, a seven-goal thriller where the Reds ended up on top as well, the clarity and control of the win = clean sheet for the Reds. This time the Citizens did not get anything back, not even a glance back into goal nor the match.

The Sky Blues failed to record a single shot on target for the entire game for the first time since 26th October 2016 (against Manchester United in the League Cup) despite enjoying much more possession after the break.

Their Catalan boss has only enjoyed one win in his last six meetings with Klopp in all competitions (D2 L3), the 5-0 thrash at the Etihad last September, with the German registering more wins against Pep than any other manager (= six).

The Merseysiders meanwhile remain unbeaten at home in Europe since October 2014 (0-3 against Real Madrid), extending their run without defeat to 15 matches at Anfield (W10 D5).

The only bad news for Liverpool were Salah's injury, which saw him being replaced by Georginio Wijnaldum just eight minutes after the interval, and Jordan Henderson's suspension, the captain's late booking seeing him suspended for the second leg at the Etihad next week.

It was an unforgettable night at Anfield, but like Klopp said, it is only half-time. Nothing is decided yet. We will see next Tuesday who will make it into the Champions League semi-final.

But the Reds will first have to travel to Goodison Park on Saturday, where they will meet Everton in the Premier League Merseyside derby lunch-time kick-off. The Toffees will be hoping and praying a certain Egyptian will stay out.

Liverpool Goals: Salah 12', Oxlade-Chamberlain 20' & Mané 31'.

Match Stats: LFC 3-0 MCFC
Possession: 34%-66%
Shots: 9-11
On target: 5-0
Corners: 0-8
Fouls: 6-10
Yellow cards: 1-4

Liverpool Team: 1 Karius; 26 Robertson, 4 van Dijk, 6 Lovren, 66 Alexander-Arnold; 7 Milner, 14 Henderson (c) (booked 86'), 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain (18 Moreno 85'); 19 Mané, 9 Firmino (29 Solanke 71'), 11 Salah (5 Wijnaldum 53'). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 2 Clyne, 22 Mignolet, 28 Ings, 63 Masterson.

Man City Team: 31 Ederson; 14 Laporte, 4 Kompany (c), 30 Otamendi (booked 45'+3'), 2 Walker; 25 Fernandino, 17 De Bruyne (booked 80'); 19 Sané, 21 Silva, 8 Gündogan (7 Sterling 57' (booked 90'+2')); 33 de Jesus (booked 76'). 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 1 Bravo, 3 Danilo, 5 Stones, 18 Delph, 20 Silva, 35 Zinchenko.

Referee: Dr Felix Brych (GER)
Man of the match: Roberto Firmino
Ground: Anfield
Attendance: 50,685

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, Sky Sports app, Twitter and beIN sports coverage.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Premier League Picks Of The Week 32

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 32

The 32nd week of the Premier League action saw:

29 goals - most by West Ham, Man City, Arsenal & Chelsea = 3 each
231 shots - most by Arsenal = 24
79 on target - most by Arsenal = 13
95 corners - most by Man City = 11
196 fouls - most by Watford & Southampton = 16 each
29 yellow cards - most by Leicester, Huddersfield & Watford = 4 each
1 red card - Wilfred Ndidi for Leicester
5 penalties - 4 scored (Milivojevic for Palace, King for Bournemouth, Aubameyang & Lacazette for Arsenal)

What a game! Glenn Murray's first penalty miss for Brighton cost his side dearly, Kasper Schmeichel guessing right and saving it, equalling his dad Peter's record of three penalty saves (3 in 14 v 3 in 21 attempts respectively, not bad at all!!!). Late drama in the last ten minutes and stoppage time saw Vicente Iborra head the visitors ahead after the spot kick miss and Jamie Vardy doubling the lead and sealing the win deep into injury time after Wilfred Ndidi was sent off for a second bookable offence. Not his day. But the Foxes still ran away with the win in the end.
Spot kicks is what saved the game and day for Arsenal on Sunday, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette netting both soft penalties, the prior's brace completing the scoreline in-between. Three goals in the last 16 minutes against Stoke at the end of a boring encounter, the visitors will have felt very hard done by at the Emirates, the result seeing them stay 19th, three points from safety.

What a team! West Ham were very happy 3-0 winners against sad Southampton, as I read on BBC, what a difference three weeks, three goals and three points make after all the fan trouble!!! João Mário and Marko Arnautović with a brace, Hammers' first win since February made David Moyes' life so much easier. "The crowd were good." one of the scorers said in the post-match interview. A bit patronising, no? (Despite the added security after all the trouble last time in the London Stadium.) The win has taken them up to 14th. And breath.
Leroy Sané's left-footed smacker gave league leaders Manchester City the lead at Goodison Park after just about four minutes played. Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling added to Everton's misery. Yannick Bolasie did pull one back for the home side but it was too little too late, the visitors enjoying 90% possession at times, the highest FT total of 81% ever held in a PL match by any side. Pep Guardiola recorded his 50th PL win and his men can win the title against arch rivals Manchester United at the Etihad next week. Wow.

What a man! Top scorer Mohamed Salah was on the scoreboard once again, topping the Premier League list and nearing Cristiano Ronaldo's 2007-08 record to help Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 1-2 at Selhurst Park. More to that difficult win on Saturday lunchtime below.
Romelu Lukaku scored his 100th Premier League goal with just over four minutes on the clock helping Manchester United to a comfy 2-0 win against Swansea in the evening match at Old Trafford. Alexis Sánchez doubled the Red Devils' lead with under half an hour gone and David de Gea made a couple of brilliant saves, but they won't have it that easy at the Etihad next weekend, that's for sure!!!

What a goal! Ayoze Pérez left it late to net the winner for Newcastle against Huddersfield at the end of a frustrating encounter for the home side at St James' Park. An important goal for an important win as manager Rafael Benítez put it bang on.
A spectacular full body volley by Ashley Barnes helped Burnley to their win at West Brom, keeping his side's European hopes alive with their third successive win, whilst sealing his opponents' misery condemning them to a Premier League record eighth successive defeat keeping them rock bottom.
Tottenham's Christian Eriksen's stunning equaliser from 25 yards out, up and over Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero, woke everyone up at Stamford Bridge, levelling out Álvaro Morata's opening header. Dele Alli then put the visitors ahead just past the hour-mark with a lovely touch and shot, the Blue defence just watching, leaving free space to score. And the England forward pounced on the stunned hosts again seconds later off Son Heung-min, both Spurs players not giving up after some ping pong in the box and in eventually to make it 1-3. And then Harry Kane came on... But it was all sealed by then, Spurs' first league win at Stamford Bridge in 28 years! Too easy! Chelsea shambles!

What the hell?! Jermain Defoe was the super sub with an injury-time equaliser, his first goal since December, for Bournemouth at Watford, the Cherries never give up, comeback kings! José Holebas' daft punch away handball that gave the visitors the penalty for their first leveller didn't help the home side either. How stupid can you get?! And Sadio Mané diving, whining, being flagged offside, scoring, handling the ball - the Senegalese was one lucky man to stay on the pitch at Selhurst Park!!! Click here for my full match report. Jürgen Klopp and some of the reporters covering said there was contact and it should have been a penalty - contact doesn't mean foul and he did dramatise it! And then handling the ball before the ref whistled, he was pushing it!!! His German boss cannot defend that! If the Reds play like this in the big Champions League clash against City on Wednesday, they'll get thrashed!!!

My Predictions - Actual Results
Crystal Palace 2:3 Liverpool - 1:2 or my match report
Brighton 2:1 Leicester - 0:2
Man United 1:2 Swansea - 2:0
Newcastle 2:0 Huddersfield - 1:0
Watford 1:1 Bournemouth - 2:2
West Brom 0:2 Burnley - 1:2
West Ham 3:2 Southampton - 3:0
Everton 1:2 Man City - 1:3
Arsenal 2:0 Stoke City - 3:0
Chelsea 2:2 Tottenham - 1:3

Click here for my previous Premier League Picks Of The Week.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match reports, MOTD, Sky Sports, SFR and BT Sports match coverage.