Tuesday, 15 August 2017

FT Notes: Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool

Sports - Football - Champions League - Qualifier

PRE-MATCH NOTES

The venue: the 30,000-capacity Rhein-Neckar Arena. Sold out within 17 minutes for this tie.

Hoffenheim won 11 and drew six of their 17 games their last season.

Their dangerman is former Leicester striker Andrej Kramaric, who scored 18 goals for them last season. Sandro Wagner, who starts alongside him in attack, bagged 12.

One person who certainly knows all about Hoffenheim is Roberto Firmino.

The Liverpool forward spent four years at the German club, scoring 49 goals in 153 appearances, before moving to the Reds in 2015.

Liverpool will look to Firminio to provide creativity in the absence of Coutinho.

ZDF: 1st European Cup tie for Hoffenheim, 333rd for Liverpool. #YNWA
BBC: While this is Hoffenheim's very first game in Europe it is Liverpool's 364th and 182nd in the Champions League/European Cup. Hm... Who's counting...

Hoffenheim were the only side Klopp's Borussia Dortmund failed to beat in the league in his first title winning season of 2010-11!

ZDF point finger at "Wackelkandidat" Simon Mignolet and same old defensive problems for draw at Watford. And transfer fiasco.

Klopp: "We need more players than money!" Clear dig at Coutinho! And owners!

MATCH NOTES - THE MAIN BITS:

3' SALAH GOAL - OFFSIDE FLAG WAS UP!!! Pfff...

10' PENALTY given by the assistant not the referee! Dejan Lovren v Serge Gnabry, eventhough it looked offside, tumbled down & got the penalty! Clumsy but OH SO SOFT!

11' Nr 27 Andrej Kramaric takes, SIMON MIGNOLET SAVES!!! Too easy to the keeper's left, but curling towards him! #TFFT

15' Mohamed Salah breaks on his own, shoots wide! Skipper Kevin Vogt was catching up trying to make up for his error, but it was one-to-one with keeper Baumann... #waste

26' Kaderabek sends a shot high from the right edge of the box. Closest either side has come for a while...

28' Hoffenheim free kick, Gnabry takes from about 25 yards out, into the box, cleared.

34' First European booking goes to Hoffenheim's number 4 Ermin Bicakcic after bringing down Salah about six yards outside the box.

35' WHAT A FREE KICK!!! FIRST EUROPEAN GAME, FIRST EUROPEAN GOAL FOR RED YOUNGSTER TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD! Right foot, over the wall, into the right corner of the net! Nice one! #YEAH #TAA 👊⚽👊 #BOOM #DANKE

40' That goal has calmed some nerves! More possession for the Reds now & settled play, less frantic & all over the place!

43' GNABRYYY denied by Simon Mignolet & Sandro Wagner puts the rebound just wide! The German commentator got loud there!

1 minute added on. Hoffenheim with the ball. Pressing. Pushing. But lose out the ball.

Liverpool counter, Mané v Vogt, the latter does well to kick the ball out for a corner.
LOVREN HEADS THE CORNER WIDE!!!

That was the last action before the break. HT Hoffenheim 0-1 Liverpool. AND BREATH!!!

HT Stats:
Possession: 61%-39%
Shots: 6-6
On target: 2-3
Corners: 0-2
Fouls: 6-8
Yellow cards: 1-0

The home side did well & dominated most of the game, only behind thanks to a TAA cracker!

Klopp will be happier with the away goal, but still worried with the shaky defence! At least Mignolet has kept strong! #sofarsogood #fingerscrossed

46' Hoffenheim kick off the second half & break & push straight away, but Wagner is flagged offside. No changes made by either side during the interval.

47' Mané crossed into the box from the left to FIRMINOOOO, what a chance from close range but it is blocked/deflected out for a corner, well done by keeper Oliver Baumann.

49' Salah from the right, defended nicely by Zuber winning the ball back.

50' GNABRYYY GOAL - OFFSIDE, cruel, I know, not the best play by Wagner, under pressure by the Reds this time. Makes a change! 😝

51' Emre Can booked for pushing down Demirbay.

52' First Hoffenheim change: 6 Havard Ermin Nordtveit replaces 4 Bicakcic.

53' First Hoffenheim corner, the commentator reels down the negative stats the Reds have with set pieces. Nothing comes from it, out wide.

53' Second change made by young boss Nagelsmann, who likes to reshape his side after the break according to the commentator. 18 Nadiem Amiri comes on for 7 Lukas Rupp.

55' Second Hoffenheim corner, blocked and cleared.

55' TAA gets his first booking too, free kick on the left for the home side, cleared again.

62' James Milner getting ready to replace Jordan Henderson.

63' Change made & the captain's armband is handed over in the process.

64' Hoffenheim free kick out for a throw-in on the left. Possession & pressure all Hoffenheim... The home side win another corner. #gulp

65' Demirbay takes, Matip defends it out for another corner on the other side. Demirbay again, headed away this time. Clear. Breath.

66' GNABRY AGAIN unmarked in the box, smacks it high.

67' A Liverpool corner for a change! TAA takes it, Lovren, ball eventually goes out for a goal kick. TAA appealed for a free kick outside the box there, but, it wasn't much. A bit like the penalty...

70' SALAH SHOT soft, easily kept out by Baumann, corner for Liverpool. Last Hoffenheim substitution: 19 Uth replaces 29 Gnabry, who was MOTM for me! Great performance for the German side, created a lot, dominated the pitch! 
Keeper holds onto the ball off the corner.

74' MILNER NETS FROM THE LEFT, nice curl, deflected in by Nordtveit, 0-2, thank you very much, vielen Dank! ⚽👊⚽

76' Benjamin Hübner booked for bringing down Firmino. Salah eventually loses the ball at the edge of the box.

80' The German commentator points out how quickly Liverpool took the free kick after Mané was brought down, repeating again & again that the ball didn't stop moving... Advantage attacking team, no? Nein?

82' NICE SAVE BY MIGNOLET denying sub Amiri from close range, what a chance! Where is the marking?!?!?!

84' MANÉÉÉ wide, another chance wasted from close range. Solanke makes his Red debut in Europe replacing Firmino, strong performance by the number 9. Even the German commentator is full of laud.

86' First fans leaving the stadium. Nicht gut.

87' GOAL FOR THE HOME SIDE sub Uth finds the breakthrough, nice left-footer into the right corner of the net. TAA failed to cover there & Matip runs in to cover way too late... Reminds me of Saturday... 💩🙈💩🙈💩 1-2

89' Last substitution for Reds, Grujic on for Mané. Whilst I write this Hoffenheim come close again, pushing it late on... Liverpool flagged offside...

4 MINUTES ADDED ON!!! Hoffenheim free kick, headed high by Hübner. The German commentator got really loud then! What a chance! Tense finish... 🙈😱🙈😱🙈

All Hoffenheim...

Demirbay down injured... After Grujic's challenge... Nagelsmann not happy...

Last minute... Liverpool with the ball... GRUJIC SHOT gloved away by Baumann.
Hoffenheim want another free kick... Didn't see anything... YNWA echoes in the background... FT whistle blows, Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool.

Confident, strong & dominant performance by the home side, but not clinical enough in front of goal.

Under-fire Mignolet kept the Reds ahead thanks to a couple of good stops, including a spot kick denying Kramaric! MOTM?

TAA's goal was a cracking free kick, congratulations! Experienced Milner doubled the lead off the bench. And I've just seen it's been listed as a Nordtveit own goal. Harsh.

We had to leak one at the end, sub Uth netting late on to make the last minutes tense. But Hoffenheim deserved at least something.

So, we can take a one-goal lead & two away goals to Anfield, that should do it, no? #COYR ⚽👊⚽ #BOOM

Klopp just calls it half-time in the post-match interview & lauds his keeper, keeper coach, the opposition & Nagelsmann. Both managers stay optimistic & are happy with their sides' performances. You can see how much it meant to the Germans. 🇩🇪😊🇬🇧

FT Stats:
Hoffenheim 1: Uth 87'.
Liverpool 2: Alexander-Arnold 35' & Nordtveit OG 74'.
Possession: 63%-37%
Shots: 13-14
On target: 4-8
Corners: 6-5
Fouls: 13-12
Yellow cards: 2-2

1899 Hoffenheim XI: 1 Baumann, 22 Vogt, 4 Bicakcic (booked 34') (6 Nordtveit 52'), 21 Hübner (booked 76'), 3 Kaderabek, 10 Demirbay, 7 Rupp (18 Amiri 53'), 17 Zuber, 29 Gnabry (19 Uth 70'), 14 Wagner, 27 Kramaric. 3-4-3
Substitutes not used: 15 Toljan, 28 Szalai, 32 Geiger, 36 Kobel.
Manager: Julian Nagelsmann = youngest Bundesliga manager with 30!

Liverpool XI: 22 Mignolet, 66 Alexander-Arnold (booked 55'), 6 Lovren, 32 Matip, 18 Moreno, 14 Henderson (7 Milner 63'), 23 Can (booked 51'), 5 Wijnaldum, 11 Salah, 19 Mané (16 Grujic 89'), 9 Firmino (29 Solanke 84'). 4-3-3
Substitutes not used: 1 Karius, 12 Gomez, 17 Klavan, 27 Origi.
Manager: Jürgen Klopp

Referee: Björn Kuipers


Notes, stats and facts taken from Twitter, BBC & ZDF coverage.

HT Notes: Hoffenheim 0-1 Liverpool

Sports - Football - Champions League - Qualifier

PRE-MATCH NOTES

The venue: the 30,000-capacity Rhein-Neckar Arena. Sold out within 17 minutes for this tie.

Hoffenheim won 11 and drew six of their 17 games their last season.

Their dangerman is former Leicester striker Andrej Kramaric, who scored 18 goals for them last season. Sandro Wagner, who starts alongside him in attack, bagged 12.

One person who certainly knows all about Hoffenheim is Roberto Firmino.

The Liverpool forward spent four years at the German club, scoring 49 goals in 153 appearances, before moving to the Reds in 2015.

Liverpool will look to Firminio to provide creativity in the absence of Coutinho.
ZDF: 1st European Cup tie for Hoffenheim, 333rd for Liverpool. #YNWA 

BBC: While this is Hoffenheim's very first game in Europe it is Liverpool's 364th and 182nd in the Champions League/European Cup. Hm... Who's counting...

Hoffenheim were the only side Klopp's Borussia Dortmund failed to beat in the league in his first title winning season of 2010-11!

ZDF point finger at "Wackelkandidat" Simon Mignolet and same old defensive problems for draw at Watford. And transfer fiasco.

Klopp: "We need more players than money!" Clear dig at Coutinho! And owners!

MATCH NOTES - THE MAIN BITS:

3' SALAH GOAL - OFFSIDE FLAG WAS UP!!! Pfff...

10' PENALTY given by the assistant not the referee! Dejan Lovren v Serge Gnabry, eventhough it looked offside, tumbled down & got the penalty! Clumsy but OH SO SOFT!

11' Nr 27 Andrej Kramaric takes, SIMON MIGNOLET SAVES!!! Too easy to the keeper's left, but curling towards him! #TFFT

15' Mohamed Salah breaks on his own, shoots wide! Skipper Kevin Vogt was catching up trying to make up for his error, but it was one-to-one with keeper Baumann... #waste

26' Kaderabek sends a shot high from the right edge of the box. Closest either side has come for a while...

28' Hoffenheim free kick, Gnabry takes from about 25 yards out, into the box, cleared.

34' First European booking goes to Hoffenheim's number 4 Ermin Bicakcic after bringing down Salah about six yards outside the box.

35' WHAT A FREE KICK!!! FIRST EUROPEAN GAME, FIRST EUROPEAN GOAL FOR RED YOUNGSTER TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD! Right foot, over the wall, into the right corner of the net! Nice one! #YEAH #TAA 👊⚽👊 #BOOM #DANKE

40' That goal has calmed some nerves! More possession for the Reds now & settled play, less frantic & all over the place!

43' GNABRYYY denied by Simon Mignolet & Sandro Wagner puts the rebound just wide! The German commentator got loud there!

1 minute added on. Hoffenheim with the ball. Pressing. Pushing. But lose out the ball. Liverpool counter, Mané v Vogt, the latter does well to kick the ball out for a corner.

LOVREN HEADS THE CORNER WIDE!!!

That was the last action before the break. HT Hoffenheim 0-1 Liverpool. AND BREATH!!!

HT Stats:
Possession: 61%-39%
Shots: 6-6
On target: 2-3
Corners: 0-2
Fouls: 6-8
Yellow cards: 1-0

The home side did well & dominated most of the game, only behind thanks to a TAA cracker!

Klopp will be happier with the away goal, but still worried with the shaky defence! At least Mignolet has kept strong! #sofarsogood #fingerscrossed

1899 Hoffenheim XI: 1 Baumann, 22 Vogt, 4 Bicakcic (booked 34'), 21 Hübner, 3 Kaderabek, 10 Demirbay, 7 Rupp, 17 Zuber, 29 Gnabry, 14 Wagner, 27 Kramaric. 3-4-3
Substitutes: 6 Nordtveit, 15 Toljan, 18 Amiri,  19 Uth, 28 Szalai, 32 Geiger, 36 Kobel.
Manager: Julian Nagelsmann = youngest Bundesliga manager with 30!

Liverpool XI: 22 Mignolet, 66 Alexander-Arnold, 6 Lovren, 32 Matip, 18 Moreno, 14 Henderson, 23 Can, 5 Wijnaldum, 11 Salah, 19 Mané, 9 Firmino. 4-3-3
Substitutes: 1 Karius, 7 Milner, 12 Gomez, 16 Grujic, 17 Klavan, 27 Origi, 29 Solanke.
Manager: Jürgen Klopp

Referee: Björn Kuipers

Notes, stats and facts taken from Twitter, BBC & ZDF coverage.

Premier League Picks Of The Week 1

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 1

In the first week of the Premier League action we saw:

31 goals - most by Arsenal & Man United = 4 each
257 shots - most by Southampton = 29!!!
80 on target - most by Arsenal = 10
126 corners - most by Palace = 12
217 fouls - most by Huddersfield & Man United = 19 each
33 yellow cards - most by Chelsea = 4
3 red cards - 2 for Chelsea (Cahill & Fábregas) & Shelvey for Newcastle

What a game! Wow! It certainly returned with a bang! Welcome back to the Premier League! Yeah! We saw 13 goals in the opening two games alone, Arsenal coming back 4-3 against Leicester and Liverpool dropping points 3-3 at Watford! But another game gets my vote: Champions Chelsea shattered down to nine men after two red cards and shocked 2-3 at home by Burnley on Saturday! MOTD was just cracking, goals and action galore! MOTD2 less so but hey, you can't have everything! ⚽👊😜👊⚽

What a team! Newly promoted Huddersfield had a dream start thrashing Crystal Palace 0-3 at Selhurst Park! It was a miserable first game for Frank de Boer, seeing Danish centre-gauche Mathias Jørgensen's header fly in off his own player Joel Ward before Steve Mounie's double condemned his side to an opening day defeat. David Wagner and his side were celebrated and very happy after their first success on their return to the top flight after an absence of 45 years. But the pundits were quickly distracted and already hailing and crowning the Red Devils as the champs-to-be after their 0-4 thrashing of West Ham on Sunday. It was United's 17th opening day win in the Premier League era, a record. The Hammers have suffered most defeats on the first day = 11. But hold your horses and calm down! It was only day one!

What a man! It was certainly the debutants' day! New Gunner Alexandre Lacazette and Blue striker Alvaro Morata, Red Mohamed Salah, and Red Devil Romelu Lukaku were all on the scoreboard, the last one twice. Super subs Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud made the difference for Arsenal on Friday night with two goals in two minutes, 83' and 85' respectively! And good old Wayne Rooney of course was back on the scoreboard for Everton after 13 years away. He had to! On the other hand, all the red cards = red faces! Shame on Gary Cahill and Cesc Fábregas for Chelsea and Jonjo Shelvey for Newcastle! Needless, unprofessional, you would have thought they know better and it's only day one!!!

What a goal! There were so many of them to choose from, I'll go for the earliest smacker = Lacazette's header after just 100 seconds for Arsenal. Sadio Mané's opener and leveller for Liverpool was a fantastic finish! And Jamie Vardy impressed with a confident and strong double. Eventhough they ended up losers at the Emirates, they resembled the classy, flashy, entertaining Foxes we so loved to watch in the season before last.

What the hell?! Do the officials remember and understand the offside rule?!?!?! Although teams seem to have forgotten how to defend set pieces, Arsenal and Liverpool especially! But come on! It's only day one and the referees are already doing their best/worst to drive everyone mad! Giving or denying or ignoring decisions that look clear to everyone else! See my match report for details... Argh!

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

Click here for my previous Premier League Picks blog.

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

Reds Drop 2 Points In PL Opener

Sports - Football - Premier League - WFC 3:3 LFC

Liverpool's all too familiar defensive frailties showed as they dropped two points in an entertaining 3-3 draw at Watford in the early kick-off on Saturday.


Manager Marco Silva will have been very happy seeing his side fight out a draw with some great stamina and character in his debut match at Vicarage Road.

The home side took an early lead after eight minutes thanks to Italian striker Stefano Okaka's header and the Reds' non-existent defence.

Red forward Sadio Mané levelled the score with just under half an hour gone, a moment of brilliance, a fantastic diagonal finish from inside the box into the top right corner of the net.

But not even three minutes later, youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold was unable to clear and French midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré put the Hornets ahead again ruthlessly.

Man of the match Roberto Firmino's penalty kick levelled the score again shortly after the break, sending the keeper the wrong way to make it 2-2.

And it was debutant Mohamed Salah again, minutes after winning the penalty, who pounced and tapped one in to give Jürgen Klopp's men the lead for the first time, 2-3.

The visitors pushed and dominated from there, Joel Matip hit the bar and Dejan Lovren forced a good save out of Heurelho Gomes, before Simon Mignolet made a crucial save, conceding a corner late on.

And it was that set piece that broke Liverpool once again, headed over the line by Uruguayan defender Miguel Britos after the Red keeper had gloved it, making it 3-3 in the 93rd minute.

Thoughts: Clumsy, cringy goals, but they all count!

Some argued the latter two Watford goals should have been flagged and disallowed offside.

I feel it still doesn't cover how Liverpool were torn to bits at the back, Mignolet just left picking up the pieces.

The Reds have a great, hungry, dangerous attack at the front, but are all worthless and cracked to bits with the defence unable to do their job.

No one covered the opposition players, they were left free to roam.

By the time any one even just thought of intervening, it was too late.

Familiar failings by the Reds, even Klopp's didn't show any reaction at the late enqualiser.

And of course Philippe Coutinho was the hot topic after his transfer request was rejected on Friday, not even 24 hours before kick-off.

Will he stay? Will he go? Yes or no, before or after, the Reds knew before and know after which positions need filling and strengthening... And the transfer window is open till end of the month... So... A lot can still happen...!!!

Anyhow, anyway, this was a faire result for Silva and Co, who worked hard and didn't deserve to lose, denying the Reds their fifth consecutive season opening win!

And there is not much rest for the Reds, as they face Hoffenheim in their Champions League qualifier on Tuesday.

Watford Goals: Okaka 8', Doucouré 32', Britos 90'+3.

Liverpool Goals: Mané 29', Firmino pen 55', Salah 57'.

Watford Team: 1 Gomes, 2 Janmaat (21 Femenía Far 18'), 4 Kaboul, 3 Britos, 25 Holebas, 8 Cleverley, 16 Doucouré, 14 Chalobah, 7 Amrabat, 33 Okaka (18 Gray 63'), 37 Pereyra (11 de Andrade 49').
Subs not used: 5 Prödl, 23 Watson, 29 Capoue, 30 Pantilimon.

Liverpool Team: 22 Mignolet (Booked 88'), 66 Alexander-Arnold (Booked 61') (12 Gomez 90+1'), 32 Matip, 6 Lovren, 18 Moreno, 23 Can, 14 Henderson, 5 Wijnaldum, 11 Salah (7 Milner 86'), 9 Firmino (27 Origi 81'), 19Mané (Booked 37').
Subs not used: 1 Karius, 16 Grujic, 17 Klavan, 29 Solanke.

Match Stats: WFC 3-3 LFC
Possession: 46%-54%
Shots: 9-14
On target: 4-5
Corners: 3-3
Fouls: 14-8
Yellow cards: 0-3

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the match: Roberto Firmino
Ground: Vicarage Road
Attendance: 20,407

Click here to read my previous LFC match report.

Pictures, facts and stats taken from the MOTD coverage and BBC match report.

Monday, 31 July 2017

125th Anniversary: HBSC 0-3 LFC

Sports - Football - Pre-Season - HBSC 0:3 LFC 

Dominic Solanke, Georginio Wijnaldum and Mohamed Salah made the 125th anniversary match a comfortable 3-0 win for Liverpool against Hertha at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.


Philippe Coutinho captained the Reds in the German capital, while Emre Can and Sadio Mané made their first appearances of the summer.

'You'll Never Walk Alone' echoed around the Olympiastadion before kick-off, the one noticeably very red corner being noticeably very loud.

Jürgen Klopp's men took the lead in the 15th minute when Adam Lallana curled a ball into the box that Solanke gratefully nodded over keeper Rune Jarstein.

The Reds lead was doubled just over 20 minutes later when Solanke pinched the ball high up the pitch and fed Mane in the box, who passed it on to the late-arriving Wijnaldum.

The Dutchman made no mistake with a low finish into the corner.

But the third goal topped them all with just over an hour gone.

Barca target Coutinho dinked a perfectly weighted pass up and over for new man Salah to lift the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.

Pál Dárdai's side were down and out.

'We Are Liverpool' echoed around the Reds supporters who certainly enjoyed the trip to Berlin.

It was an awesome atmosphere, another good run-out for the Reds and another pre-season victory.

Vielen Dank und auf Wiedersehen! ⚽👌😘👍⚽

The next pre-season warm-up comes thick and fast: Audi Cup clash against Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena.

Liverpool goals: Solanke 15', Wijnaldum 38' & Salah 61'.

Hertha XI: 22 Rune Jarstein, 28 Fabian Lustenberger*, 21 Marvin Plattenhardt*, 4 Karim Rekik, 23 Mitchell Weiser*, 10 Ondrej Duda*, 3 Per Skjelbred*, 11 Mathew Leckie*, 6 Vladimir Darida*, 19 Vedad Ibisevic*, 8 Salomon Kalou*.
Subs: 17 Maximilian Mittelstädt*, 26 Arne Maier*, 29 Florian Baak*, 12 Jonathan Klinsmann*, 30 Julius Kade*, 32 Pál Dárdai*, 2 Peter Pekarík (booked)*, 14 Valentin Stocker*, 7 Alexander Esswein*, 24 Genki Haraguchi*.
Coach: Pál Dárdai

Reds XI: 22 Mignolet, 12 Gomez, 32 Matip*, 17 Klavan, 18 Moreno (booked)*, 23 Can*, 5 Wijnaldum*, 20 Lallana*, 19 Mane*, 10 Coutinho*, 29 Solanke*.
Subs: 73 Grabara, 26 Robertson*, 6 Lovren, 38 Flanagan*, 53 Ejaria*, 14 Henderson*, 9 Firmino*, 27 Origi, 15 Sturridge*, 11 Salah*, 40 Kent*.
Coach: Jürgen Klopp

*all subbed in the second half

Match stats:
HBSC 0-3 LFC
Possession:
49.1%-50.9
Shots: 8-13
On target: 3-6
Blocked: 3-1
Corners: 4-3
Offside: 0-1
Saves: 3-3
Fouls: 13-13
Yellow cards: 1-1
Red cards: 0-0

Man of the match: Dominic Solanke
Ground: Olympiastadion
Attendance: 54,279


Pictures, facts and stats taken from own attendance and the LFC match blog.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Liverpool Lift PL Asia Trophy

Sports - Football - PL Asia Trophy - LFC 2:1 LCFC

Liverpool lifted the Premier League Asia Trophy after beating Leicester 2-1 at the Hong Kong Stadium.



Click here to relive all the action with my ByTheMin coverage.

The 2016 champions took the lead after 12 minutes with a lovely goal.

Defender Christian Fuchs got to the byline, crossed from the left, finding Algerian forward Islam Slimani towards the far post, who headed it in, to complete a nicely worked goal.

Another Algerian midfielder was the shining light for Leicester in an action-packed opening 15-20 minutes.

Riyad Mahrez created and produced most, team mates Daniel Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy helping him out nicely, with some lovely team play.

Liverpool looked more clumsy, defender Joel Matip especially, not having a clue what to do with the ball, taking too long, giving it away, too much, too many times.

Red boss Jürgen Klopp was going mental on the side-lines, ranting at one of the officials.

The crowd was having their fun with it, chanting and cheering to see if the loud German would be cautioned...

But he remained in the technical area. Jawohl.

It was hard to believe this was a friendly.

A nice run and great cross by Barca target Philippe Coutinho set up striker Mohamed Salah to head it past Kasper Schmeichel and level the score 1-1 with 20 minutes gone.

And just before the break, the little magician was at it again.

A right-footed smacker of a strike by the Brazilian from the edge of the left corner of the box gave Schmeichel no chance made it 2-1.

The crowd were on their feet and in awe, and Klopp much happier.

The second half saw a bulk of substitutions and more changes throughout, continuously changing the flow of play and action.

Liverpool kept dominating possession and play though, Leicester missing most opportunities.

It was not to be for Craig Shakespeare's men, the Reds seeing them out of the competition holding on to their fine lead.

The Red fans are left hoping and definitely believing that this is just the first of many trophies, just a warm-up of what is to come.

Liverpool Team:
1 Karius; 66 Alexander-Arnold*, 32 Matip*, 6 Lovren*, 7 Milner* (c); 5 Wijnaldum*, 20 Lallana*, 10 Coutinho*; 11 Salah*, 9 Firmino*, 27 Origi*. 4-3-3
Substitutes: 12 Gomez*, 14 Henderson*, 15 Sturridge*, 16 Grujic*, 17 Klavan*, 18 Moreno*, 22 Mignolet, 29 Solanke*, 38 Flanagan*, 40 Kent*, 58 Woodburn*.

Leicester Team: 1 Schmeichel; 18 Amartey*, 5 Morgan* (c), 15 Maguire, 28 Fuchs; 26 Mahrez* (booked), 22 James*, 4 Drinkwater*, 11 Albrighton*; 19 Slimani*, 9 Vardy*. 4-4-2
Substitutes: 2 Simpson*, 10 King*, 13 Musa*, 16 Lawrence*, 17 Jakupovic, 20 Okazaki, 21 Iborra*, 23 Ulloa*, 25 Ndidi* (booked), 29 Benalouane*, 31 Elder, 32 Barnes, 33 Moore.

*Subs made, most in the second half

HT Stats:
LFC 2-1 LCFC
Possession: 58%-42%
Shots: 6-3
On target: 3-1
Blocked: 3-1
Offside: 1-1
Passes: 220-161
Touches: 311-231
Tackles: 8-6

FT Stats:
LFC 2-1 LCFC
Possession: 64%-36%
Shots: 11-6
On target: 6-2
Blocked: 4-2
Offside: 2-1
Passes: 541-314
Touches: 704-450
Tackles: 12-15 

Referee: R. Madley
Man of the match:
Ground: Hong Kong Stadium

Click here to read my last LFC match report.

Pictures, stats and facts taken from the LCFC and LFC matchday blog and Sky Sports match coverage.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

1st Pre-Season Friendly: TRFC 0-4 LFC

Sports - Football - Pre-Season - TRFC 0-4 LFC

Liverpool warmed up nicely and strongly in their first 2017-18 pre-season friendly, thrashing Tranmere Rovers 4-0 at Prenton Park.


It was a good chance for Reds manager Jürgen Klopp to give all of his players their first run around after just eight days of training back from the summer holidays, making ten changes after the interval.

Both halves were dominated by the visitors, with possession and chances galore.

Micky Mellon's side were made to work hard and gave their all, goalkeeper Scott Davies and the back line keeping well and solid...

Until James Milner broke the deadlock from the spot with just over half an hour gone after Tranmere stopper Davies brought down Sheyi Ojo in the box.

Marko Grujic doubled Liverpool's lead with a cracker a few minutes before the break, picking up the ball from 30 yards out, working his way through and finishing off nicely.

All changes brought a new and fresh wave of dominance and opportunities for the Reds, Pedro Chirivella netting nicely four minutes into the second half after Dominic Solanke's turn and shot.

And youngster Ben Woodburn converted Liverpool's second penalty sealing the deal making it 0-4 to the visitors after the Welsh midfielder was fouled in the box by Davies.

No discrediting the National League side, but the result reflects the Red dominance and nice start to the pre-season warmup.

Liverpool Goals: Milner pen 33', Grujic 41', Chirivella 49' & Woodburn pen 79'.

Tranmere Rovers lineup: 1 Davies*; 3 Ridehalgh*, 6 Sutton, 5 McNulty, 2 Buxton, 7 Duggan*; 11 Norburn*, 18 Hughes, 8 Harris*; 10 Norwood*, 9 Cook*. 5-3-2
Subs: 11 Jennings*, 25 Pilling*, 14 Clarke*, 15 Gumbs, 16 Dunn*, 17 Solomon, 4 Owusu*, 19 Mangan*, 20 Rokka*.

Liverpool 1st half lineup: 1 Karius; 7 Milner, 21 Lucas, 32 Matip, 66 Alexander-Arnold; 6 Wijnaldum, 14 Henderson, 16 Grujic; 15 Sturridge, 9 Firmino, 54 Ojo. 4-3-3
Subs: 2 Clyne, 12 Gomez, 17 Klavan, 29 Solanke, 35 Stewart, 38 Flanagan, 40 Kent, 50 Markovic, 56 Randall, 58 Woodburn, 68 Chirivella, 73 Grabara.

Liverpool 2nd half lineup: 1 Karius*; 38 Flanagan, 17 Klavan, 12 Gomez, 2 Clyne; 58 Woodburn, 35 Stewart, 68 Chirivella; 40 Kent, 29 Solanke, 50 Markovic. 4-3-3
Subs: 56 Randall, 73 Grabara*.

*Subs made in the second half

Match Stats: TRFC 0-4 LFC
Shots: 6-21
On target: 2-10
Offside: 2-0
Corners: 0-8
Tackles: 20-12
Tackles won: 80%-10%
Free kicks: 12-11
Bookings: 0-0
Possession: 30.2%-69.8%
Passes: 306-696
Passing accuracy: 73.5%-92.2%
Crosses: 9-33
Successful crosses: 11.1%-15.2%

Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the match: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Ground: Prenton Park

Click here to read my last LFC match report.

Pictures, stats and facts taken from the LFC matchday blog and LFCTV match coverage.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

2016-17 Premier League Tops & Flops

Sports - Football - 2016-17 Premier League Tops & Flops

So, last season we saw:

- 296 wins, 168 draws
- 1064 goals, 942 inside the box, 122 outside the box, 36 own goals
- 9731 shots, 253 hit the woodwork
- 1455 offside
- 109 penalties, 82 scored, 17 saved, 10 missed
- 1392 yellow cards
- 41 red cards

And the teams to blame the most and/or least for those stats are:

TOP TEAMS

Chelsea were the main gainers of course, the champs, 43 points and 9 places better off than last season!

Tottenham and Liverpool were the next best improvers, going from strength to strength, both with 16 points more, finishing one and four positions higher respectively.

Everton were worth mentioning too, 14 points and 4 spots stronger and higher.

Here is the full comparison table how all teams did 2016-17 in comparison to the season before.

Most wins were produced accordingly by the Blues with 30, Spurs 26, Arsenal and Manchester City with 23 each.

Least defeats were suffered by Tottenham with 4, Chelsea and Manchester United with 5 each and City and Liverpool with 6 each.

Top scorers were Spurs with 86 goals, followed by the champions Chelsea with 85 and Sky Blues with 80.

Tottenham produced most of those goals from inside the box (74), followed by Chelsea and City (73) and Arsenal (70).

Top scorers from outside the box were Liverpool with 13, Chelsea and Spurs with 12 and Leicester with 9.

Most shots also came from Tottenham with 669, the Reds and Sky Blues the next best with 640 and 633 respectively.

Liverpool, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough avoided putting the ball into the back of their own net.

Spurs, the Eagles and Blues conceded the least spot kicks with only 2 each.

Swansea were flagged offside only 49 times, Boro 51 and Bournemouth 53.

Least cautions went to the Cherries with only 52 yellow cards, the Reds with 54 and Swans with 56.

Chelsea, Spurs, LFC, West Brom, Palace and Sunderland were clean with no names on the red cards list.

The most action-packed weeks were: Follow the links to read and relive my picks of that week.

Most goals: 37 in week 14 & week 38

Most shots: 295 in week 1 & week 10

Wrote most: week 13 & week 14, week 31 & week 32

FLOP TEAMS

Leicester are the biggest losers, 36 points and 11 places worse off, oh Claudio!

Southampton and West Ham deflated by 17 points, two and four positions respectively.

Sunderland imploded/dissolved/destroyed completely, relegated having dropped 15 points and three spots.

Here is the full comparison table how all teams did 2016-17 in comparison to the season before.

Least wins came from Middlesbrough with just 5, Sunderland 6 and Hull City 9.

Most defeats crushed The Black Cats with 26, The Tigers with 22 and Swans 21.

Boro found the net the least with only 27 goals, followed by Sunderland with 29 and Hull with 37.

The Smoggies also recorded the least number of goals from inside the box with 26, outside the box with just 1 and shots with 351, the Black Cats following them nearly as miserably with 387, 26 and 3 respectively.

Burnley didn't give their fans much more to shout about with just 31 attempts converted from inside the box, Hull 33.

Crystal Palace don't like distance with only 2 goals from outside the box and Everton 3.

Most own goals went to Bournemouth, Hull, Stoke and Swansea with 5 each.

Hull City topped the penalty list with 13 conceded, followed by Arsenal with 10 and Southampton and Swansea with 9 each.

Burnley saw the offside flag most, a whole 101 times, whilst United missed out on the century with 99 and Arsenal 95.

Watford collected most bookings with 84 yellow cards, followed by West Brom with 80 and MUFC, Sunderland and the Hammers with 78 each.

Hull, Watford and West Ham saw red most with 5 sent off each.

Weeks to forget were: Follow the links to read and relive my picks of that week.

Least goals: 14 in week 28 (5 games postponed) & 16 in week 35

Least shots: 123 in week 28 (5 games postponed) & 158 in week 34 (3 games postponed) & 174 in week 9.

Biggest rant: week 36

TOP PLAYERS

Tottenham's front man Harry Kane tops the league scorers list with 29 goals, followed by Everton striker Romelu Lukaku with 25 and Arsenal forward Alexis Sánchez with 24.

Manchester City's boomer Sergio Agüero produced most chances with 139 shots, Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen and Gunner Sánchez just behind him with 133 and 129 respectively.

Most assists came from Manchester City's winger Kevin De Bruyne with 18, Spurs man Eriksen the next best with 15 and Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson with 13.

De Bruyne has also hit the woodwork most with 9 smackers, United's Paul Pogba saw 6 come off the bar, Eriksen, Sánchez and team mate Jack Wilshere 5 times each.

Chelsea full-back César Azpilicueta has seen most of the ball with 2,459 passes, Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka behind him with 2,299 and Citizen Fernandinho with 2,180.

Burnley keeper Tom Heaton has spoilt most chances with 141 saves, followed by relegated Sunderland (now Everton) stopper Jordan Pickford with 135 and Swansea saviour Lukasz Fabiański with 117.

FLOP PLAYERS

Watford midfielder José Holebas has been cautioned most for his indiscipline with 14 yellow cards, followed by Leicester right-back Danny Simpson with 12 and a whole bunch of players with 11 bookings each (Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter, Everton middle man Idrissa Gueye, Arsenal centre back Shkodran Mustafi and Saints defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu).

Watford centre back Miguel Britos, City's Fernandinho and Gooner Xhaka are the most convicted serial offenders with two red cards each.

WHO IS IN? WHO IS OUT?

A few weeks to go and we already know:

Arsene Wenger is in, for another two years. Happy Gunners?

Mauricio Pellegrino replaces Claude Puel. Change of fortune for the Saints?

Big Sam says bye bye, hello Frank de Boer at Palace. Boom or boo?

Watford welcome Marco Silva as their new boss replacing Walter Mazzarri after the Portuguese saw Hull drop down into the Championship. Ha or hm?

Rafa's back with Championship winners Newcastle! Brighton and Huddersfield joining them on the promotions list. Yay or nay?

Red Devils skipper Wayne Rooney has returned back to his Toffee roots... Whilst Lukaku went the other way. Part of a swap deal or not, good or bad? Happy or sad? Mad either way!

Big bosses Pep Guardiola (MCFC), José Mourinho (MUFC) and Jürgen Klopp (LFC) will feel the pressure to step up and heat up the competition and keep title winner Antonio Conte (CFC) on his toes next season. They're all busy bees in the transfer market and rumour mill that's for sure!

Can Spurs do it again? Or even top the outstanding season they had? All eyes will be on Mauricio Pochettino and co...

To be or not to be... Which Leicester will turn up? Only Craig Shakespeare knows...

Whatever will happen, I know one thing: I CANNOT WAIT!!!

Most facts and stats were taken from the official Premier League website.

Pictures were taken from my weekly Premier League Picks blogs.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

2016-17 Premier League Comparison Table

Sports - Football - Premier League Comparison Table

Here is the full Premier League comparison table, how it has changed from the 2015-16 final positions to end of last season 2016-17, how much better or worse the teams ended up:

1. Leicester -37 points, 11 places down = 12th with 44 points
2. Arsenal +4 points, 3 places down = 5th with 75 points
3. Tottenham +16 points, 1 place up = 2nd with 86 points
4. Man City +12 points, 1 place up = 3rd with 78 points
5. Man United +3 points, 1 place down = 6th with 69 points
6. Southampton -17 points, 2 places down = 8th with 46 points
7. West Ham -17 points, 4 places down = 11th with 45 points
8. Liverpool +16 points, 4 places up = 4th with 76 points
9. Stoke City -10 points, 4 places down = 13th with 41 points
10. Chelsea +43 points, 9 places up = 1st with 93 points
11. Everton +14 points, 4 places up = 7th with 61 points
12. Swansea -6 points, 3 places down = 15th with 41 points
13. Watford -5 points, 4 places down = 17th with 40 points
14. West Brom +2 points, 4 places up = 10th with 45 points
15. Crystal Palace -1 point, 1 place up = 14th with 41 points
16. Bournemouth +4 points, 7 places up = 9th with 46 points
17. Sunderland -15 points, 3 places down = 20th with 24 points
18. Newcastle promoted with Rafa, winning the Championship*
19. Norwich finished 8th in the Championship &
20. Aston Villa 13th!

*other teams promoted to the Premier League: Brighton & Huddersfield

Up & straight down: Hull City & Middlesbrough

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 38

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 38

The 38th and final week of the Premier League action saw:

283 shots - most by Chelsea = 28
37 goals - most by Tottenham = 7
222 fouls - most by Man United = 16
30 bookings - most by Everton & Leicester & Stoke = 4 each
1 red card - Koscielny for Arsenal
1 penalty - 1 scored (Lukaku for Everton)


What a game! The top and drops of the Premier League were already confirmed over the last couple of weeks, so, the only thing left to play for was the Champions League qualification. Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal were in the mix, the London side needing a win and one of the other sides to slip up to be able to clinch a top four spot. It was not to be. Quite the opposite. Despite beating Everton 3-1 at the Emirates, Laurent Koscielny's reckless challenge saw him sent off and suspended, plus injury to defender Gabriel Paulista didn't make the Gunners' chances any better for the FA Cup final either... Merde!


What a team! Chelsea won and celebrated in style, but Tottenham stunned everyone just that bit more thrashing Hull City 1-7! 13 goals in the last two games, 15 in the last three! How did they not win anything this season?! Best goals total scored and conceded, best points total in years, they have missed out big time! Will they be able to top that next season??? In absolute contrast to that, total flops were Everton and Watford, why bother turning up if you don't really play?! Both sides were felled easily and taken apart by Arsenal and Manchester City respectively. Refund the fans!!!


What a man! Departing Chelsea skipper John Terry may have been the most celebrated player of the day (and absolutely lambasted for the substitution antiques on BBC TV and radio coverage), but Spurs striker Harry Kane is definitely the best of the season, three goals against Hull City and seven in the last two outings taking his season total to 29 in just 30 games, including four hat-tricks! The Golden Boot well deserved! The Golden Glove has gone to the champions' keeper Thibaut Courtois with 16 clean sheets.


What a goal! Georginio Wijnaldum's opener for Liverpool relieved everyone at Anfield just before the break after the Reds had made it look oh so difficult against relegated Middlesbrough. Philippe Coutinho added a sweet free kick and Adam Lallana sealed the deal with a pass into goal after a fine team break away, buildup and effort. Aaron Ramsey's high curling beauty into the top corner to make it 3-1 to Arsenal was worth nothing in the end. The question now is, will there be any changes at the realm of the London side???


What the hell?! José Mourinho once again took all the attention - this time by saying nothing, in a non-existent post-match press conference at Old Trafford after his side's 2-0 win against Palace! What a farce! Even Arséne Wenger was up to chat (ish) after his worst season at Arsenal! Isn't it part of their job description?! I mean, how much money the media pump into the game and then to get that kind of response, just avoiding them and blanking them out, that's just blatant ignorance and arrogance?!

My Predictions - Actual Results
Arsenal 2:1 Everton - 3:1
Burnley 1:1 West Ham - 1:2
Chelsea 6:1 Sunderland - 5:1
Hull City 1:4 Tottenham - 1:7
Leicester 2:0 Bournemouth - 1:1
Liverpool 2:1 Middlesbrough - 3:0
Man United 1:0 Crystal Palace - 2:0
Southampton 1:1 Stoke City - 0:1
Swansea 1:0 West Brom - 2:1
Watford 1:2 Man City - 0:5

Games In Hand Played Before The Weekend:
Chelsea 1:1 Watford - 4:3
Arsenal 4:1 Sunderland - 2:0
Man City 3:0 West Brom - 3:1
Southampton 1:2 Man United - 0:0
Leicester 1:1 Tottenham - 1:6

20 goals in only 5 games! Wow! 168 shots, 36 of which fell to the Gunners alone, most in a Premier League game since 2003! Double wow! 99 fouls, 22 bookings (6 to Watford alone, triple wow!), Sebastian Prödl sent off for Watford and 1 penalty saved by United's Sergio Romero denying Saint Manolo Gabbiadini. And someone said the Premier League was boring?!

Click here to read my previous Premier League Picks Of The Week.

Pictures and stats taken from the BBC match reports, Radio Five Live coverage and MOTD.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 37

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 37

The 37th Week of the Premier League action saw:
260 shots - most by Liverpool = 26
29 goals - most by Arsenal, Crystal Palace & Liverpool = 4 each
223 fouls - most by Middlesbrough = 19
36 bookings - most by Hull City = 5
0 red cards 
4 penalties - 2 scored (Jesus for City & Milivojevic for Palace)


What a game! It was a crucial win for Swansea at the Stadium Of Light, keeping them safe whilst Sunderland's stint in the top league has come to an end after a decade, in a very dire fashion, fans booing... Paul Clement has done what David Moyes has not been able to... Motivation! Change! Woo! Something Arsenal were less complaining about or shouting and begging for after thrashing Stoke 1-4! And with a couple of games in hand, they maybe, just maybe, fancy their hint of a chance to crack and break into the top four. With their last breath! Liverpool's 0-4 thrashing of West Ham didn't help their case though... And it was an emotional farewell at White Hart Lane after 118 years, Tottenham beating Manchester United 2-1 thanks to goals from Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane. A fitting sendoff I think after one of their best seasons against a side having one of their worst campaigns. Contrast.

What a team! Bournemouth are looking to finish in the top ten after beating Burnley convincingly 2-1, their highest league finish in their 118-year history! Sam Vokes had cancelled out Junior Stanislas' goal, but Joshua King restored the lead two minutes later. The Norwegian's goals have been worth 12 points for the Cherries this season, only Diego Costa (15) and Sergio Agüero (13) have been more value to their clubs, Chelsea and Manchester City respectively. Wow! Meanwhile Hull City were relegated after being thrashed 4-0 at Crystal Palace, joining Sunderland and Boro in the drop. Very happy Big Sam. Very sad Marco Silva. But not really a surprise for either side.


What a man! Antonio Conte is not easy to please. His side were crowned champions on Friday night after beating West Brom 0-1, but the feisty Italian is eyeing the double like Carlo Ancelotti did last for the Blues in 2010. Chelsea face Arsenal at Wembley in the FA Cup Final on 27th May. They are also on track to end the season on a record-high number of wins and points total! Molto bene!


What a goal! Ross Barkley's fifth Premier League goal, a lovely curling shot, won the game for Everton against Watford, showing defiance and making a point or two as well to manager Ronald Koeman. The Dutch boss gave his English midfielder a public ultimatum last week, giving him till next weekend to agree a new contract or be sold. To be or not to be... Champions, that's what substitute Michy Batshuayi's late goal made the Blues after beating West Brom 0-1 at the Hawthorns. One to remember. Leicester City's goal at Manchester City was a super acrobatic finish by Shinji Okazaki meeting Marc Albrighton's cross. It was not enough though for the Foxes as they saw Riyad Mahrez's penalty disallowed correctly after a slip and double-touch, meaning it stayed 2-1 and a home win. Cruel but true and correct.


What the hell?! There were quite a few head-shaking moments this weekend! West Brom defender Jonny Evans' blatant handball, casually pushing the ball away mid-fall as if he was goalkeeping. Stoke big man Peter Crouch's goal was more hand than header, Maradona special! And just a yellow card for Boro keeper Brad Guzan's foul on Shane Long, really?! Lucky for him Long sent the penalty sky-high, but Saints still ended 1-2 winners at the Riverside. Ridiculous stuff, best examples for long overdue and much needed video refereeing, pretty please, once again! Pfff!

My Predictions - Actual Results

Everton 1:0 Watford - 1:0
West Brom 1:0 Chelsea - 0:1
Man City 2:1 Leicester City - 2:1
Bournemouth 1:1 Burnley - 2:1
Middlesbrough 0:0 Southampton - 1:2
Sunderland 0:1 Swansea City - 0:2
Stoke City 1:1 Arsenal - 1:4
Crystal Palace 1:0 Hull City - 4:0
West Ham 2:2 Liverpool - 0:4
Tottenham 3:1 Man United - 2:1

Games in hand played before the weekend:
Southampton 3:1 Arsenal - 0:2 

(The game saw 25 shots, 13 fouls, 3 bookings and the Gunners overtaking United and staying in the top four race with a hint of a shout.)

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

All pictures and stats taken from the BBC match reports and MOTD.