Friday, 29 September 2017

Another Frustrating Draw For The Reds

Sports - Football - Champions League - FCSM 1:1 LFC

Liverpool were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw in Moscow on Tuesday night, despite their dominance and chances galore, it was just the point once again. The Reds are still looking for a European win, Sevilla topping the Champions League group E after beating MK Maribor 3-0.

Click here for my full ByTheMinute match coverage.

Neither side was able to take and make much of their possession, no control, just give and take, backwards and forwards, messy stuff. Just when Liverpool got more threatening and created more, they conceded, same old.

Spartak Moscow's first threat came halfway through the first half, Aleksandr Samedov went down against Philippe Coutinho after Liverpool tried to block and stop the threat, winning a free kick.

The set piece was not far outside the box, about six yards, Fernando sending Loris Karius full-stretch to his left, trying to reach a nice curl around the wall, but not much jump or cover in the effort.

It was their only shot in the whole half that gave the home side the lead against the run of play.

Sadio Mané had a goal correctly disallowed offside, shortly before a fine team build-up with Emre Can, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mané led to the visitors' equaliser.

The ball found Coutinho in the box, with too much space, his right-foot volley giving keeper Artem Rebrov no chance. Too close. Too quick. The Brazilian ace made it 1-1 with just over half an hour gone.

There was not much interruptions, end to end stuff, more and more Liverpool possession and pushing, Roberto Firmino wasting and missing a couple of close chances.

After the break, Liverpool's dominance and frustrations continued.

Rebrov did a good job with some strong saves denying Coutinho before having to come off injured, replaced by Aleksandr Selikhov, the replacement keeper filling the position well for the rest of the match.

With twenty minutes left, Jürgen Klopp brought Daniel Sturridge on for Mané, who also drew a very frustrated figure, missing and wasting chance after chance, losing the ball again and again.

Play was stopped quite a few times, Spartak forced to make all three changes due to injury, eight minutes had to be added on in the end.

Sub keeper Selikhov starred with a fantastic save denying Mohamed Salah in the 96th minute, impressive reflex, his glove meeting the header full-on and strong, keeping the scoreline level at the dead.

With this draw, Liverpool have failed to win any of their last seven Champions League games (D4 L3), their longest ever run without a victory in the competition. They have also failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine Champions League games.

Spartak Moscow have won only five of their last 37 Champions League games (D7 L25). They have also failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 12 outings in the competition.

Liverpool have only won one of their last eight away games in the Champions League (D4 L3) – this coming against Debrecen in November 2009 (1-0). They are two points behind group leaders Sevilla. Not nice reading.

Klopp's reaction:

"We have to be more clinical - 100%!

"To create all those chances and only score one goal feels average. It was a crazy game.

"What can I say? We created, created and created. Where is the real point for criticism? We tried with all we had. The effort was great."

But it was and is obviously not enough. Again, the stats speak for themselves. But we want and need more! Results!!! This was the only draw of the night! Argh! When will it finally click for the Reds?!?!?!

Spartak Moscow goal: Fernando 23'.

Liverpool goal: Coutinho 31'.

Spartak Moscow team: 32 Rebrov (57 Selikhov 68'), 38 Eshchenko, 29 Kutepov, 5 Tasci, 16 Bocchetti (booked), 14 Jikia, 19 Samedov (99 Rocha Neves 90'+3'), 11 Fernando, 50 Pasalic, 71 Popov (25 Melgarejo 85'), 12 Luiz Adriano.
Subs not used: 3 Petkovic, 18 Bakaev, 21 Samsonov, 69 Davydov.

Liverpool team: 1 Karius, 66 Alexander-Arnold, 6 Lovren, 32 Matip, 18 Moreno, 14 Henderson, 23 Can (booked) (5 Wijnaldum 73'), 10 Coutinho, 11 Salah, 19 Mané (15 Sturridge 70'), 9 Firmino (booked).
Subs not used: 7 Milner, 17 Klavan, 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain, 22 Mignolet, 38 Flanagan.

HT 1-1
Possession: 40%-60%
Shots: 1-9
On target: 1-4
Corners: 1-3
Fouls: 6-7
Yellow cards: 0-1

FT 1-1
Possession: 36%-64%
Shots: 3-16
On target: 2-6
Corners: 2-5
Fouls: 11-11
Yellow cards: 1-2

Referee: Clément Turpin
Man of the match: Philippe Coutinho
Stadium: Otkrytiye Arena
Attendance: 43,376

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

Pictures, quotes, stats and facts taken from the BBC match report, Twitter and beIN Sport match coverage.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 6

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 6

The 6th week of the Premier League action saw:

29 goals - most by Man City = 5
232 shots - most by Man City = 25
82 on target - most by Man City = 9
91 corners - most for Southampton = 9
209 fouls - most by Tottenham = 20
46 yellow cards - most for West Ham, Man United & West Brom = 4 each
1 red card - Serge Aurier for Tottenham
2 penalties - 1 scored (Jamie Vardy denied by Simon Mignolet, Alexandre Lacazette netted for Arsenal)

What a match! It was goals and action galore in the opening match of the weekend! After all the hard work by West Ham to keep Tottenham at bay, the visitors took over at the London Stadium. And it had to be, Dele Alli from the right, headed in by Harry Kane to break the deadlock. Not even a couple of minutes later, the star striker doubled the score, netting the rebound of Joe Hart's save against Alli, his 11th goals in the last five away matches. Hard life for the Hammers, after a strong start, everything went downhill for Slaven Bilić's men when Michail Antonio had to come off injured and be replaced by Andy Carroll with just under half an hour gone. The home side's control fell to bits from then on, the substitute's stupid mistakes and giveaways costing them dearly. Christian Eriksen made it three after the break, Kane hit the woodwork twice before Javier Hernández pulled one back for the home side. It got more interesting after Serge Aurier saw red though, booked a second time for his silly and clumsy challenges, Spurs' first sending off in 84 league games. Cheikhou Kouyaté made it 2-3 with three minutes plus stoppage time to go, setting up a nail-biting finish, including chances, bust-ups, pure drama! But it ended with Spurs on top! A full-on derby that has seen 21 goals in the last 6 meetings! Wow! ⚽️👊🏻⚽️👊🏻⚽️👊🏻⚽️

What a team! Everton were in bits! There was nothing and no one giving them anything, not even straws to clutch on! Joshua King got a free run and nice free hit to give Bournemouth the lead at Goodison Park. It was over a decade since the Toffees lost four consecutive league matches without scoring (last miserable run like that was August to October 2005). I couldn't see Ronald Koeman survive much longer! So much money! So many players! So little goals, results and points! But Oumar Niasse's late double turned the game on it's head and put all those pressures on hold. For now. What a let-off! What a turnaround! Talk about super-sub! The saviour for both club and boss?!?!?! More to their luck (or lack of) below... 💩👊🏻🙈👎🏻💩
Watford also left it late late late, Richarlison striking in the 90th minute to counter Swansea's fightback and beat them 1-2 at the Liberty Stadium. Both goals by the visitors were defensive howlers, giveaways, backing the impressive, stubborn, consistent form by Marco Silva's men. First for both: The Swans losing the opening three home matches, the Hornets winning the first three away games. Boo(m)! 👊🏻⚽️👊🏻⚽️👊🏻

What a man! It took Romelu Lukaku  not even 20 minutes to smash in a rebound from close range to give Manchester United the lead at Southampton, making it six goals in the six opening league games for the Red Devil, equalling Louis Saha's record. The Belgian striker became the first to score for three different teams at St Mary's. José Mourinho's men were under pressure, the Saints on top for most of the second period, but made it through the storm, holding on to the three points to continue their top run. 16 points from the opening six games is United's best start to the Premier League since 2011-2. Chelsea downed Stoke 0-4 at the Bet365 Stadium, Alvaro Morata with a hat-trick, his second and Chelsea's third was a lovely run and finish, making it six in six PL games for the Spaniard. In form. ⚽️👊🏻⚽️👊🏻⚽️
Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet went from zero to hero, conceding a goal and then a spot kick against Jamie Vardy within a couple of minutes, before denying the Leicester striker an equaliser from the spot. The Belgian stopper has saved eight of the 15 PL penalties he has faced for LFC, more than any other keeper, securing the Reds their first win in nearly a month! 👊🏻⚽️👊🏻⚽️👊🏻

What a goal! Manchester City's opener against Crystal Palace shortly before the interval was a nicely worked goal. Leroy Sané's short free-kick found David Silva, who clipped it over the defence for Sané to stab it in at the near post. It changed the dynamic of the game, Raheem Sterling adding a couple to make it 3-0. Sergio Agüero with his 176th and Fabian Delph into the top corner sealed it with a fourth and fifth respectively. Th-r-ash. Pep Guardiola's side have become the first PL side to score five or more goals in three consecutive games! Wow! Cannot say anyone was surprised. It's been over 10 hours since Palace scored in the league (last one was on 14 May). In that time City have scored 29. The aggregate score of their last six meetings is 21-1, the last home defeat for the Sky Blues against the Eagles was in 1990. Worlds apart! ⚽️🙈⚽️🙈⚽️
Tomer Hemed's hooked finish gave Brighton their second Premier League win in the only Super Sunday game. A top-quality goal, followed by some brilliant defending by the Seagulls, putting everything and everybody on the line, denied Newcastle a comeback, leaving Rafa visibly frustrated. 👊🏻⚽️👊🏻⚽️👊🏻

What the hell?! Bournemouth were so lucky! Defender Simon Francis elbowed Wayne Rooney in the face, in the box, so, it should have been red and penalty. But the Everton man ended up red in the face, full of blood, fuming after being denied both by referee Martin Atkinson. Ridiculous. At least the Toffees finally got a win, that will have settled some Scouser nerves and tempers at least. Same for their Red neighbours after they finally banked three points at Leicester. But not without any hiccups, threats, flaps, fails and drama. The referee didn't make many Merseyside friends there either... Click here for my full match report. And how Jay Rodriguez didn't get a penalty for West Brom, but Aaron Ramsey did for Arsenal at the Emirates, only referee Robert Madley knows and can explain... Maybe... Hopefully... Consistency? None! The call settled Gunners' nerves as the Baggies were a constant threat to get something back, hitting the post and seeing Monreal clear off the line. The spot kick doubled the score and handed Arsène Wenger's men a much needed clearer lead and win, more than they deserved, Tony Pulis left fuming and wondering... 💩🙈😡🙈💩

My Predictions - Actual Results
West Ham 1:2 Tottenham - 2:3
Burnley 0:1 Huddersfield - 0:0
Everton 2:1 Bournemouth - 2:1
Man City 6:0 Crystal Palace - 5:0
Southampton 2:4 Man United - 0:1
Stoke City 1:2 Chelsea - 0:4
Swansea 0:1 Watford - 1:2
Leicester 2:1 Liverpool - 2:3 or my match report
Brighton 1:0 Newcastle - 1:0
Arsenal 3:0 West Brom - 2:0

Click here for last week's Premier League Picks.

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

Monday, 25 September 2017

Reds Down Foxes In 5-Goal Thriller

Sports - Football - Premier League - LCFC 2:3 LFC

Liverpool ended their dire run of four games without a win, beating Leicester 2-3 in the Premier League Saturday evening kick-off at the King Power Stadium, surviving a fightback with Simon Mignolet denying Jamie Vardy from the spot.

Click here for my full ByTheMinute match coverage.

Both sides made loads of changes from their cup clash on Tuesday, eight each, including Riyad Mahrez, Shinji Okazaki and Vardy all starting for the Foxes, Philippe Coutinho for the Reds with Sadio Mané still suspended.

It started tense, both sides not showing too much confidence with the ball, making the game more open, end-to-end stuff.

Vardy and Mahrez missed a couple of chances early on, the prior denied by Mignolet before the latter saw his rebound shot go wide.

Emre Can hit the post with Kasper Schmeichel on full-stretch, Mohamed Salah putting the rebound wide.

Okazaki headed wide after Liverpool were unable to clear the ball, seconds before Salah broke the deadlock with just over a quarter of an hour gone.

Coutinho set up the Egyptian with a lovely cross from the left, Salah heading it into the right corner from a tight angle, Schmeichel could only tap the ball into the goal with his finger tips.

The Brazilian star doubled the score halfway through the first half with a brilliant free kick from the little semi-circle just outside the box, right-footer into the left corner, no chance for the keeper.

So, 0-2 up, the Red dominance in possession and play was reflected by the score line for a change.

But the home side ended the half pushing and pressing more, seeing Okazaki's goal flagged and disallowed offside.

It would have been too good to be true to go into the break with a two-goal lead AND a clean sheet for Jürgen Klopp's men after bossing most of the half thanks to Salah and Coutinho.

A scruffy end to the half saw Okazaki pull one back for Leicester deep into injury time:

The Japanese forward had the last touch before the ball crossed the line after it looked like Mignolet had been fouled trying to defend a Mahrez corner, Vardy heading the ball away from the keeper.

The goal stood, it was 1-2 at the break, the Reds' high spirit dampened a bit whilst Craig Shakespeare had something to grasp on.

In the second half, Liverpool continued dominating, but not controlling the game, nerves showing and shaking again and again. With just under 25 minutes gone, all madness broke out.

Under-fire skipper Jordan Henderson made it 1-3 with an easy right-footed shot from the centre of the box.

Seconds later, Vardy pulled one back to make it 2-3, heading the ball in from a tight angle on the left, after Mignolet had pushed substitute Demarai Gray's shot to the striker.

Defence was lacking in both build-ups to the goals, unable to mark, tackle or even just close in on their opponents.

Not even three minutes after that, Mignolet conceded a penalty bringing down Vardy in the box, some pointing out his luck just to see a yellow card for the challenge, his contact with the ball most probably to thank for that.

But the Belgian keeper made up for it, pushing away Vardy's right-footed shot, too central to make it past and in.

Mignolet has now saved seven of his 15 penalties faced since joining LFC in the 2013-14, more than any other stopper.

Schmeichel denied Sturridge late on with a full-stretched save, whilst Vardy put a chance wide before a last-minute free-kick to the home side with their keeper in the Red box was cleared.

It ended 2-3, to the Reds' relief. The Foxes have now only won two of the last 11 Premier League meetings with the Reds, losing seven.

Liverpool have lost just one of their last eight Premier League away games. However, they have conceded ten goals in their opening three games on the road for the first time since 1965.

One does not have to point out the problem(s). Again. Rather appreciate the three points and hope it's just the start to the change of fortune and form. #COYR XxXxX #YNWA

LCFC goals: Okazaki 45'+3 & Vardy 69'.

LFC goals: Salah 15', Coutinho 23' & Henderson 68'.

LCFC team: 1 Schmeichel, 2 Simpson, 5 Morgan, 15 Maguire, 3 Chilwell, 10 King, 25 Ndidi (booked 22'), 11 Albrighton (booked 17') (19 Slimani 80'), 26 Mahrez (7 Gray 61'), 9 Vardy (booked 90'+2), 20 Okazaki (8 Iheanacho 74'). 4-4-1-1
LCFC subs not used: 12 Hamer, 18 Amartey, 21 Iborra, 28 Fuchs.

LFC team: 22 Mignolet (booked 72'), 12 Gomez, 6 Lovren (booked 56'), 32 Matip (booked 45'+2), 18 Moreno, 14 Henderson, 23 Can (7 Milner74'), 5 Wijnaldum, 10 Coutinho (21 Oxlade-Chamberlain 79'), 9 Firmino (15 Sturridge 64'), 11 Salah. 4-3-3
LFC subs not used: Bench: 1 Karius, 17 Klavan, 29 Solanke, 66 Alexander-Arnold.

HT stats: LCFC 1:2 LFC
Possession: 41%-59%
Shots: 6-10
On target: 4-3
Corners: 3-3
Fouls: 8-5
Yellow cards: 2-1

FT stats: LCFC 2-3 LFC
Possession: 43%-57%
Shots: 12-23
On target: 7-6
Corners: 3-6
Fouls: 13-14
Yellow cards: 3-3

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the match: Philippe Coutinho
Stadium: The King Power

Click here for my last LFC match report.

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

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Liverpool Knocked Out At The King Power

Sports - Football - League Cup - LCFC 2:0 LFC

Leicester rediscovered their winning ways, seeing Liverpool fall once again after dominating most of the play and wasting chance after chance, the League Cup clash ending 2-0 at the King Power Stadium.

Click here for my full ByTheMinute match coverage.

It was an impressive comeback by the Foxes after being dominated in the first half. The stats speak for themselves. The Reds didn't make their chances count and their defence made them trip and fall once again.

Both sides had made a lot of changes, as normal for the early stages of the cup competition. But it was the substitutions during the match that cost dearly, top for the hosts, flop for the visitors, the Reds eliminated OUT of the League Cup, first hurdle, third round.

The match started very competitive, a professional clash, high-tempo but missing the edge, the Reds on top but with still no lead at the break, Craig Shakespeare's men holding on solid and strong.

Andy Robertson created a lot with some fine runs and crosses, Philippe Coutinho showed some of his good old magic with some awesome moves and Dominic Solanke shared plenty of chances with both of them.

But LFC just could not find a breakthrough. Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked more clumsy and wasteful, frustrating to watch, losing the ball too many times.

Why Jürgen Klopp opted to replace Coutinho with youngster Ben Woodburn after the break, hell knows. The Brazilian had created most and produced most quality and chances.

And the Reds were punished for their wastefulness just past the hour-mark.

Substitute Shinji Okazaki, who had come on for an injured Leonardo Ulloa not long after the interval, made no mistake. It was a scruffy finish after a couple of headers and Liverpool failing to clear a corner, Vicente Iborra the last one to head it straight into Okazaki, who put in the rebound.

Klopp then took off Georginio Wijnaldum and gave Danny Ings a run-around. Another questionable move, especially looking at the contrasting experience... And score-line!

Islam Slimani doubled the score a few minutes later with an unstoppable beauty, a left-footer into the top left corner, from the edge of the box. That was game over.

Simple: Liverpool hadn't taken their chances. Leicester have. The Coutinho substitution didn't help. And the defence was lacking and leaking once again.

Danny Ward made a couple of strong saves late one, denying Okazaki a double and Demarai Gray, who both starred for the home side.

Liverpool's defence let them down once again, no marking, too much space and question marks everywhere.

It will be the same clash again on Saturday, Liverpool back at the King Power Stadium, for the Premier League evening kick-off. Leicester will be on a confident high after this win.

The line-ups will surely change a lot, but will this trend of frustration, misses and leaks stop for the Reds??? It's getting too much!!! It's just not good enough! Beam me back to the Arsenal game, please! :-S #FFS

Was soll das Jürgen?!?!?! Scheiß-Dreck-Kack!!! -.- #COYR #ARGH

Leicester Goals: Okazaki 65' & Slimani 78'.

Leicester Line-Up: 12 Hamer, 18 Amartey, 16 Dragovic, 5 Morgan, 3 Chilwell, 11 Albrighton, 21 Iborra (booked 90'), 25 Ndidi (38 Choudhury 84'), 7 Gray, 19 Slimani, 23 Ulloa (20 Okazaki 55').
Subs not used: 8 Iheanacho, 13 Musa, 17 Jakupovic, 26 Mahrez, 29 Benalouane.

Liverpool Line-Up: 52 Ward, 38 Flanagan, 12 Gomez, 17 Klavan (booked 75'), 26 Robertson, 14 Henderson, 16 Grujic (booked 57'), 5 Wijnaldum (Ings 73'), 21 Oxlade-Chamberlain, 10 Coutinho (58 Woodburn HT), 29 Solanke.
Subs not used: 1 Karius, 7 Milner, 18 Moreno, 50 Markovic, 66 Alexander-Arnold.

HT Stats: LCFC 0-0 LFC
Possession: 24%-76%
Shots: 2-13
On target: 1-3
Corners: 2-3
Fouls: 3-5

FT Stats: LCFC 2-0 LFC
Possession: 30%-70%
Shots: 8-20
On target: 5-3
Corners: 4-6
Fouls: 9-10
Yellow cards: 1-2

Referee: Stuart Attwell
Man of the match: Shinji Okazaki
Ground: King Power Stadium

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

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

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 5

Sports - Football - Premier League Week 5

The 5th week of the Premier League action saw:

21 goals - most by Manchester City = 6!!!
267 shots - most by Liverpool = 35!!!
73 on target - most by Manchester City = 10
100 corners - most by Liverpool = 12
206 fouls - most by West Brom, Arsenal & Manchester United = 15 each
30 yellow cards - most by Crystal Palace = 5
1 red card - David Luiz for Chelsea
1 penalty - 1 scored (Anthony Martial for Manchester United)

What a game! Laurent Depoitre woke everyone up with the opening goal at the John Smith's Stadium, but Jamie Vardy levelled the score from the spot minutes later, Huddersfield 1-1 Leicester, Andy King making the most of nothing by Chris Löwe to get the penalty. It was end-to-end stuff after that, the home side dominating but unable to take advantage in the end. Swansea's back five frustrated the hell out of Tottenham and earned the clean sheet and well-deserved point at Wembley. Spurs are still waiting for a league win at the NW London ground, having already dropped more points there this season than at White Hart Lane the whole of last season. Arch rivals Arsenal performed so much better, fighting out a point at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's first league draw at home in 16 months. Both sides came close, creating a lot, but the Blues looked that bit more sloppy, giving the ball away too many times, whilst the Gunners stayed on top, covering and tackling well. David Luiz' stupid sending off late on added to the home side's clumsy and frustrating display and they will be relieved to have squeezed out a point. Antonio Conte's men have had as many red cards in their last five PL games as they had in their previous 73 games combined (3). Arsène Wenger meanwhile will just have felt that hint of disappointment his side couldn't capitalise and walk away with all the points after a het-up, intense, entertaining derby! 👊🏻👏🏻👊🏻👍🏻👊🏻

What a team! Crystal Palace are breaking all records - the Eagles suffered their fifth consecutive opening league defeat without having scored a goal! That's a first in top-flight history! And the longest run without scoring was broken after the 78th minute - a dry run of 439 minutes beating Newcastle's 438 minutes set in 2005-6. The rainy weather fit the mood at Selhurst Park on Roy Hodgson's return after 51 years. Next on the former Liverpool and England boss' fixture list: Man City away, United away, Chelsea at home. Will the 70-year-old still have a job end of next month? Frank de Boer's record shows that should and most probably will not be the case. Will Sam Allardyce be back in October? 💩🙈💩🙈💩

What a man! West Brom's Gareth Barry made a record-equaling 632nd Premier League appearance (Ryan Giggs the former king, now having to share the crown, surely to be beaten next week). How his keeper Ben Foster didn't see red for his full-on sliding tackle on Javier Hernández, I don't know. I think West Ham boss Slaven Bilić is still shaking his head now as I type. There's nothing more to write about the goalless draw. 😴😑😴😑😴
Wayne Rooney's return to Old Trafford was the most discussed topic this weekend, replays of his many top goals shown again and again. The Evertonian had a couple of chances but did not have much to shout about before he was substituted under great applause from both ends of the ground and even a handshake from United boss José Mourinho. The striker has never beaten the Red Devils in the Premier League. 🙈👏🏻⚽️👍🏻🙈

What a goal! Jermain Defoe scored his first goal since arriving at Bournemouth to make it 2-1 and a fine turnaround-win against Brighton. The match-winner came after a nice turn in the box and drill home by the former Sunderland forward. Substitute Jordan Ibe had set up both the winner and leveller, the latter with a clever backheel to Andrew Surman, who tapped it in easy. Solly March had given the visitors the lead ten minutes into the second half after Dale Stephens headed against the cross bar, Shane Duffy saw his header cleared and Davy Pröpper his follow-up blocked off the line by Surman. All that action and the goals after the interval made up for a dismal first half. ⚽️👊🏻⚽️👊🏻⚽️
Each of Xherdan Shaqiri's last six Premier League goals have been from outside the box, including the whacker that levelled the score for Stoke at Newcastle, nice one! 👏🏻⚽️👌🏻⚽️👍🏻 And Jamaal Lascelles' header off Matt Richie's corner gave the home side the lead and winner as it ended 2-1, a proper hard-fought win for the Magpies! 👊🏻⚽️👊🏻⚽️👊🏻
Antonio Valencia's opener for United against Everton in the fourth minute was a smacker! Edge of the box, right foot, smash, boom, bang, left corner of the net, Jordan Pickford had no chance! Unstoppable beauty! The 4-0 result was very harsh as the Toffees did come back stronger after the break, but just buckled under the pressure in the final minutes. Romelu Lukaku's goal and celebration added insult to misery. Either way, there are very happy Red Devils in second place, level on points and goals with City at the top, just the alphabet separating the two rivals. ⚽️😵👌🏻😵⚽️

What the hell?! SEVEN CHANGES FOR LFC! 34 SHOTS ON GOAL! But Burnley remained unbeaten away in the Premier League, after winning at Chelsea and drawing at Tottenham, but haven't won at Anfield for 43 years, Liverpool having won all three previous home games against the Clarets. Man of the moment Mohamed Salah equalised three minutes after Scott Arfield had given the visitors the lead with a nice volley. Ben Mee came close to net a winner, Joël Matip clearing off the line. Clarets keeper Nick Pope kept well and strong to deny Jürgen Klopp's men. The Reds were frustrated once again, similar to the Sevilla game on Wednesday. Argh! Just ARGH for all Red fans! 🙈😡🙈😡🙈
Loved seeing Elton John and Pep Guardiola chatting before the game at Watford! Only in England... "1-0 to the referee" chant by the Hornets fans was a brilliant response to Sergio Agüero's goal that gave Man City the lead at Vicarage Road. It was so close, even the Argentine was looking back at the linesman to make sure the flag wasn't up... But the game was sealed soon after, the same striker doubling the score a couple of minutes later, making it eight consecutive away games he has started and scored in (only RvP has a longer run of 9). Gabriel Jesus made it 0-3 before the break, another dodgy offside- looking one. What was the flag there for again??? Nicolás Otamendi added to the home side's misery in the second half and Agüero completed his hat-trick to make it 0-5 (his sixth in the PL, the only guys left to beat are Alan Shearer with 11, Robbie Fowler 9, Michael Owen and Thierry Henry with 8). Add a Raheem Sterling penalty to seal the deal 0-6, it was all too easy and ended Watford's unbeaten run. Why couldn't Liverpool do that?!?!?! City fans' reaction: "We're taking the piss!" -  with 15 goals to nil in three games for the Citizens, yes, you are taking the piss! Lol! 😂👏🏻👊🏻👍🏻😂
Oh, and how could I forget the Super Sunday clash between the Red Devils and the Angry Birds! 😈 v 🕊 yep, you read right! LMAO! 😂😈😂🕊😂

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

Click here for last week's Premier League Picks.

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

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Shaky Defence Costs Reds Again

Sports - Football - Champions League - LFC 2:2 SFC

Liverpool's leaky defence cost them two points as they drew their opening Champions League group game 2-2 against Sevilla at Anfield.

After being thrashed 0-5 by Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday, confidence was low for the Reds, their weaknesses bared for everyone to see.

So, the Kop was extra loud, wanting and urging their side to bounce back in style on their European return after three years absence.

Click here to read my ByTheMinute match coverage.

But it took only five minutes for those dreams to be shattered.

The first attack for the visitors, a fine counter, Wissam Ben Yedder gave the visitors the lead with an easy tap in.

There was no one covering him, too much space, an easy conversion after Dejan Lovren missed and messed up his interception to block and clear the pass from the left in the buildup.

Liverpool pushed and pressed well at the front and on the counter with some great team play, but shaky and dodgy every time the ball came to their back line or anywhere near the box.

Reds attack Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino came close a couple of times, Sevillistas keeper Sergio Rico doing well in denying and frustrating both.

21st minute, finally the Reds got the breakthrough to level the score, Firmino netting after quality interplay and connections in the buildup with Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson.

All the pushing and pressing and breaking payed off again after 36 minutes when Mohamed Salah gave the Reds the lead thanks to great running and crossing by Wijnaldum again.

The couple worked well together throughout the match. It was an evil deflection off defender Ever Banega though that took the ball up and over keeper Rico to make it 2-1, but it was just what the Red doctor ordered.

And just a couple of minutes before the break, the home side won a penalty after Mané was brought down by Sevilla skipper Nicolas Pareja.

However, LFC failed to take advantage and build on their lead, seeing Firimino's spot kick come off the right sidebar.

Liverpool finished the first half on top, Alberto Moreno seeing his shot saved by Rico after another lovely counter.

That first half showed signs and shines of the Red side that thrashed Arsenal 4-0 before the international break.

Ups and downs, tops and flops, shining at the front, shaking at the back, the first half showed some lovely football with the odd cringe at the back.

And the second half grew more and more frustrating with cringe after cringe, Sevilla blocking out Liverpool again and again, whilst stretching and shaking the Reds at the back creating more of a threat.

With an hour gone, Sevilla boss Eduardo Berizzo was sent to the stands after throwing the ball away from Joe Gomez. Needless, childish stuff.

Reds boss Jürgen Klopp grew more and more frustrated, too, seeing chance after chance go to waste.

Just under 20 minutes to go, the Spaniards levelled the score out of nowhere.

Off a throw-in, sub Luis Muriel passed to Joaquin Correa who smashed in the equaliser with his right foot, again not much defence threatening either of them.

The Reds were like frozen. A couple of minutes later, Philippe Coutinho was brought on for Emre Can.

The want-out Brazilian was met with cheers and applause all round Anfield, but did not make any difference.

Quite the opposite, every time the wannabe-Barca-man got the ball, he lost possession, adding to the frustration for the home side.

The only other chance of note came in injury time, Wijnaldum heading the ball into Rico's gloves.

On the other side, Liverpool were lucky to see Muriel's shot go wide after the defenders were again unable to recover or cover.

And then to add to the Reds' misery, Gomez was sent off seeing a second yellow card in the 94th minute.

Loris Karius easily caught the high curled free kick just before the full-time whistle.

The under-fire keeper actually had an all-right game and is not to blame for either goal.

Klopp had a shout-out with the opposition's staff on the sideline. He was not happy. Nein! Nicht gut!

The HT and FT stats show the dominance, but not the edgy nerves and shaky slips at the back. The score reflects less the prior, more the latter, sad but true.

In the other Group F game, Maribor came from behind with five minutes to go to draw 1-1 against Spartak Moscow. So it's all even to start off with.

Liverpool goals: Firmino 21' & Salah 36'.

Sevilla goals: Ben Yedder 5' & Correa 72'.

Liverpool line-up: 1 Karius, 12 Gomez (booked 64', sent off 93'), 6 Lovren, 32 Matip, 18 Moreno (booked 39'), 5 Wijnaldum, 23 Can (10 Coutinho 76'), 14 Henderson, 11 Salah (21 Oxlade-Chamberlain 88'), 19 Mané (15 Sturridge 82'), 9 Firmino. 4-3-3
Subs not used: 22 Mignolet, 7 Milner, 17 Klavan, 26 Robertson.
Manager: Jürgen Klopp

Sevilla line-up: 1 Rico, 25 Mercado (booked 35'), 21 Pareja (c) (booked 41'), 4 Kjaer, 18 Escudero, 15 N'Zonzi, 10 Banega (booked 42'), 14 Pizarro (17 Sarabia 45'), 16 Navas (2 Corchia 82'), 11 Correa, 9 Ben Yedder (20 Muriel 70'). 4-3-3
Subs not used: 13 Soria, 6 Carrico, 7 Krohn-Dehli, 22 Vazquez.
Manager: Eduardo Berizzo

HT stats: LFC 2-1 SFC
Possession: 51%-49%
Shots: 14-2
On target: 5-1
Corners: 5-1
Fouls: 5-6
Yellow cards: 1-3

FT stats: LFC 2-2 SFC
Possession: 49%-51
Shots: 24-7
On target: 7-2
Corners: 10-3
Fouls: 14-9
Yellow cards: 10-3
Fouls: 14-9
Yellow cards: 3-3
Red cards: 1-0

Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED)
Assistants: Mario Diks (NED) & Hessel Steegstra (NED)
Additional assistants: Kevin Blom (NED) & Kamphius Jochem (NED)
Fourth official: Joost van Zuilen (NED)
Man of the match: Mohamed Salah
Ground: Anfield

Click here to read my ByTheMinute match coverage.

Click here to read my previous LFC match report.

All pictures, facts and stats were taken from the BBC match report, and beIN Sport match coverage.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Premier League Picks Of The Week 4

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 4

The 4th week of the Premier League action saw:

28 goals - most by Manchester City = 5
237 shots - most by Crystal Palace = 23
87 on target - most by Manchester City = 10
118 corners - most by Crystal Palace = 13
212 fouls - most by Newcastle = 15
22 bookings - most by Everton & Newcastle = 3 each
1 red card - Sadio Mané for Liverpool
1 penalty - 1 scored (Jamie Vardy for Leicester)

What a game! Crucial/cruel results: Both Super Sunday games had the least goals, but hell they weren't missing chances nor action! Newcastle recorded their first win 0:1 at Swansea to Rafael Benitez's relief recovering in hospital from an operation, whilst Chris Wood made it two goals in two games for Burnley as they beat struggling Crystal Palace 1:0 at home, more to that below. West Ham recorded their first win of the season on Monday night, beating Huddersfield 2-0 at the London Stadium. Their first defeat brought the high-flying Terriers back down to earth, even-though it took a cruel deflection off Pedro Obiang to break the stubborn deadlock and concede their first goal since promotion to the top flight. It was a nice birthday present for Hammers boss Slaven Bilić, who would have been under even more scrutiny and fire, having lost all three opening games conceding 10 goals, making him odds-on one of the faves to be sacked first. It was Joe Hart's first league clean sheet in 23 games. The lead soon was doubled thanks to substitute André Ayew turning the ball in from close range, icing on the manager's birthday cake to bag the first three points this season. 🎂👌🏻😊👍🏻🎂

What a team! Brighton secured their first ever Premier League goals and win in style, high-firing 3-1 at home against West Brom, their first top-flight victory for 34 years, thanks to two goals by Pascal Groß. Crystal Palace on the other hand suffered their fourth defeat in a row, as mentioned above. They went down fighting though, 1-0 at Burnley, recording 23 attempts! The last top-flight team to lose their opening four matches without scoring were Preston North End in 1924-25. And as ridiculous as it is, it was no surprise to then get the news of Frank de Boer's exit after just 77 days. Sad but true. There is no such thing as patience in football nowadays. They obviously didn't watch the match! The team fought and played well. Just one (very costly) error early on by Lee Chung-yong decided the match in the end... But they will say it is the results that count. Former England and Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is set to take over the job at Selhurst Park. And oh, we all love him, don't we! 💩🙈💩🙈💩 Meanwhile, much in contrast to that, Watford have no such worries, going from strength to strength, up to fourth in the Premier League table after their impressive display, cracking goals and 0-2 win at Southampton. 👌🏻⚽️👏🏻⚽️👍🏻

What a man! And José Mourinho was at it again, distracting from his side's disappointing draw with his childish sideline and interview antiques. It was all about the post-match handshake-refusal after a tense draw and clashes with counterpart Mark Hughes as Stoke fought out a 2-2 draw against Manchester United at the Bet365 stadium. Man of the match Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's double for the Potters put an end to the Red Devils' 100% start to the season. And deservedly so! Their keeper Jack Butland starred with brilliant stops and breathtaking saves, whilst the whole back line kept stubborn and solid too, tackle after tackle, challenge after challenge, block after block, chance after chance. Impressive. No matter what the Portuguese boss says. ⚽️👊🏻👏🏻👍🏻⚽️

What a goal! Harry Kane's 100th Tottenham goal was more oops than woo, but they all count. It looked like an attempted cross from the right but looped over home keeper Jordan Pickford and in. Christian Eriksen doubled the score and Kane added his 101st to make it 0-3 and an easy away win for Spurs at Goodison Park. It could have been 0-6. For all the money they spent and players they signed, Everton are still cracking and crumbling. Worrying. Not a good day for either Merseysiders, see below for more details. N'Golo Kanté scored against his former side Leicester handing Chelsea an edgy away win. Wood scored on his full debut for Burnley thanks to Chung-yong's back-pass giveaway, as mentioned above, handing the Clarets the 1-0 win and heartbreak for the Eagles. Cruel, cruel, cruel. Bournemouth were downed to their fourth consecutive defeat as well, well beaten 3-0 at Arsenal thanks to Danny Welbeck's double. Can't see anyone calling for Eddie Howe's head though! Not even mentioning good old Arséne Wenger. They love him. Really. Right?! 😝😜😘😜😝

What the hell?! The red card at the Etihad divided opinions, both managers Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola mouthing their disapproval in their post-match interviews. WTF? It was a high, dangerous boot by Sadio Mané taking out keeper Edison Moraes. In. The. Face. By the book that is red, full stop. And it doesn't excuse such a pathetic performance. Liverpool got absolutely hammered 5-0 by Manchester City. The defence was non-existent! It ended up being a fun kick-about for the home side. Having their main striker sent off may explain why they didn't score. But too absolutely fold, collapse, give up, dramatically, completely, uncharacteristically as the Reds did - explain me that! Here is my full LFC match report. Rant over and out. ⚽️👊🏻🙈👎🏻⚽️

My Predictions - Actual Results
Man City 2:2 Liverpool - 5:0 or my full LFC match report
Arsenal 2:1 Bournemouth - 3:0
Brighton 1:1 West Brom - 3:1
Everton 2:2 Tottenham - 0:3
Leicester 2:2 Chelsea - 1:2
Southampton 2:1 Watford - 0:2
Stoke 1:2 Man United - 2:2
Burnley 3:3 Crystal Palace - 1:0
Swansea 1:1 Newcastle - 0:1
West Ham 0:0 Huddersfield - 2:0

Click here for last week's Premier League Picks.

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

Monday, 11 September 2017

City Crush 10-Man Reds 5-0

Sports - Football - Premier League - MCFC 5:0 LFC

Liverpool were thrashed 5-0 by a ruthless Manchester City at the Etihad after seeing Sadio Mané sent off for a high kick at keeper Ederson Moraes in the first half of the lunch-time kick-off on Saturday.

The game had started competitive, both sides creating chances, putting the pressure on.

The Reds fell behind to Sergio Agüero's cool finish around Simon Mignolet in the 24th minute, the Sky Blues enjoying too much time and space with the ball.

Then eight minutes before the break, referee Jonathan Moss showed Mané red for his high challenge on Ederson, who required treatment for the cut in his face before he was replaced by Claudio Bravo.

The competition vanished from then on, City were all over Liverpool, the second half looking more like a kick-about than an actual competitive match.

Young defender Trent Alexander-Arnold didn't know what hit him, struggling to cover all the sprints, leaks and gaps, no one else marking, closing down or tackling.

Gabriel Jesus doubled the lead for the home side before the break and was handed a second by an unselfish Agüero to make it 3-0 just eight minutes after the restart.

Substitute Leroy Sané added two late goals sweeping in Benjamin Mendy's cross at the near post and curling in a left-footer to complete the 5-0 thrashing, City's biggest win over Liverpool since 1937.

The Reds just folded, collapsed, gave up, dramatically, completely, uncharacteristically.

The red card divided opinions, both managers Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola mouthing their disapproval in their post-match interviews.

It was a high, dangerous tackle, which by the book is red, full stop. And it doesn't excuse such a pathetic performance, total collapse.

After thrashing Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield before the international break, confidence was high.

Ask new signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who came on for Mohamed Salah after the interval: He became the first player to lose 4-0 and 5-0 in two consecutive Premier League games with different clubs.

This was Klopp's heaviest defeat in all competitions as Liverpool manager and his joint-heaviest ever managerial loss since October 2006 when Werder Bremen beat his Mainz 6-1.

As always after such a devastating defeat, lots of critics and protesters suddenly emerge = #KloppOut. Here's another stat:

This was the German's first Premier League defeat away from home to one of the last season's top seven sides (P10 W5 D4 L1).

So, it's not all doom and gloom, still early days. Liverpool will have to pick themselves up and learn from this.

And what better way to do this than in their next fixture, back in the beloved Champions League, group match against Sevilla on Wednesday.

Manchester City goals: Agüero 24', Jesus 45'+6 & 53', Sané 77' & 90'+1.

Liverpool: Mané sent off 37'.

Manchester City line-up: 31 Ederson (1 Bravo 45'+1), 3 Danilo, 5 Stones, 30 Otamendi (booked 6') (15 Mangala 71'), 25 Fernandinho (booked 28'), 2 Walker, 17 De Bruyne, 21 Silva, 22 Mendy, 10 Agüero, 33 Jesus (19 Sané 57').
Subs not used: 8 Gündogan, 18 Delph, 20 Bernardo Silva, 47 Foden.

Liverpool line-up: 22 Mignolet, 66 Alexander-Arnold (booked 19'), 32 Matip, 17 Klavan, 18 Moreno, 5 Wijnaldum (7 Milner 58'), 14 Henderson, 23 Can (booked 80'), 11 Salah (21 Oxlade-Chamberlain 45'), 9 Firmino (29 Solanke 67'), 19 Mané (sent off 37').
Subs not used: 1 Karius, 6 Lovren, 12 Gomez, 15 Sturridge.

Match stats: MCFC-LFC
Possession: 66%-34%
Shots: 13-7
On target: 10-3
Corners: 8-3
Fouls: 10-9
Yellow cards: 2-2
Red cards: 0-1

Referee: Jonathan Moss
Man of the match: Kevin de Bruyne
Ground: Etihad
Attendance: 54,172

Click here for my previous LFC match report.

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