Encurtidos is said to think very highly of the current squad at the club, so we shouldn't expect too many, if any, departures as he looks to build a squad capable of challenging for the title. There will, however, be players coming in as he looks to make the squad his own. He said on his tranfer policy "The players here are good, but the squad has no depth. Our first eleven, maybe fourteen, are quality, but after that we are struggling. I shall bring in some players of my own, but look to keep the core of the side."
Steven Gerrard was confirmed as the clubs captain for the upcoming campaign, with Jamie Carragher remaining as vice-captain. New signings Andy Carroll and Luiz Suarez will be teaming up for the first time and are probably Liverpool's strongest combination anywhere on the pitch. The centre of defence is where the main issues will lie; Carragher is on his last legs and Agger & Skrtel have not been performing to the best of their ability.
It will be interesting times on the Red side of Stanley Park during pre-season.
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Please note: I have completed a season and a bit of this story, but am at the end of my second season in game. Will post what I have written to date, then update as I go.
A month into the new season and it's as good a time as any to take a look at how Alejandro Encurtidos has started in his reign as manager of Liverpool.
The competitive fixtures came earlier than he probably would've wanted, but Europa League qualifying began at the end of July against Icelandic outfit Breidablik. Martin Skrtel scored in both legs of a convincing 5-1 aggregate victory. Luiz Suarez opened his account in the away leg, which will encourage his boss.
All the while, Encurtidos was working hard on improving his squad via the transfer market. Five players were brought in for a total of £41,000,000. Six players left Anfield, many on loan, inlcuding Dirk Kuyt who headed to Spain to join Real Madrid on a season long loan. Sotiris Kyrgiakos left for Benfica in a deal worth £2,500,000.
American forward Clint Dempsey was the first to join The Reds this summer, arriving from Fulham in a £6,000,000 deal. Dempsey will give Encurtidos options as he can play out wide or through the middle. His prowess in the air will also add another threat to the Liverpool attack. Alfred N'Diaye, a combative central midfielder from Nancy Lorraine, signed on the dotted line at the start of August costing £4,500,000.
Sotiris Ninis signed from Panathinaikos for £4,000,000. Ninis is an exciting wing wizard and will surely become an Anfield legend with his dazzling footwork and quality delivery. The extra bit of spark the club were looking for out wide, especially with Andy Carroll now leading the line.
As expected, Encurtidos then headed back to his homeland for new recruits. Kiko, a 19 year old wing back, signed from Hercules for £3,200,000, but is more one for the future and a long term replacement for Glen Johnson. The second signing from Spain was the marque signing of the summer. Fernando Llorente eventually joined on the eve of the Reds third league game of the season after drawn out discussions between the two clubs. Bilbao eventually cashed a cheque for £23,000,000 on tranfer deadline day.
Back to the football, and Liverpool opened their Premier League campaign at home to Blackburn, where a Martin Skrtel brace settled it and Liverpool coasted through the second half to open up with a 2-0 win. Next up was a tricky trip to Bloomfield Road to face Ian Holloway's Blackpool. It was the Andy Carroll show, as the big striker netted a superb hat-trick in a 3-0 win. A very encouraging start for Encurtidos. The third league game was at home to Birmingham, where the Blues held out for a well earned 0-0 draw. It was a constant defence vs attack encounter, but Ben Foster was in inspired form.
During the opening fortnight of the season, Liverpool also faced Molde in the final qualifying round of the Europa League. Carroll scored in both legs, Dempsey opened his Reds account and Stevie Gerrard also netted his first of the season in a convincing 6-0 aggregate win.
Just the one goal conceded in the opening seven games will encourage Encurtidos, along with Carroll getting off to a flyer. If he and Llorente can click, they could prove an unstoppable strike pairing and who knows where they could fire Liverpool...
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Six games crammed into 19 days during the last 3 weeks of September meant for a real test of Liverpool's resolve and a first real indicator of what kind of season they are going to have. It's safe to say they passed with flying colours and Alejandro Encurtidos will be delighted.
After the international break at the beginning of the month was the match every United and Liverpool fan looks for when the fixtures are released in June, as Encurtidos took his side to Old Trafford. Fernando Llorente was making his debut and started paying back the transfer fee by converting a 42nd minute penalty in front of the Stretford End. It was one of only three shots Liverpool got on target as they were under pressure for the majority of the game. Wayne Rooney eventually equalised on sixty-two minutes, but Liverpool were able to hold on for a 1-1 draw.
Liverpool then travelled to Switzerland to face Basel in the Europa League group stages and put in a very professional performance, taking home a 3-0 victory. Llorente got his second and third goals for the club and Clint Dempsey added a third in the dying minutes to wrap it up.
Back to the Premier League and back to Anfield with Wigan Athletic the visitors. Llorente again had the Kop wooing over him with a fine individual display, adding a futher two goals to his tally for the season. Raul Meiereles and centre half Daniel Agger added two further goals during the second half, giving Liverpool and rather easy 4-0 win and another three points.
Before there was time for the players to catch their breath, another side were on their way to Anfield looking to grab the spoils; this time it was Sven Goran Eriksson's Leicester City side in the League Cup. Encurtidos put out a weakened side, although Llorente and Stevie Gerrard both started. The Spanish striker was instrumental in both goals, laying them on for David Ngog and Gerrard. The game petered out second half as Liverpool rang the changes and cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win.
The Reds then headed to the North East for a tricky fixture at the Stadium of Light against Steve Bruce's Sunderland side. It became even more trickier eight minutes in when Stephane Sessegnon put the Black Cats into the lead. Liverpool rallied and Gerrard bagged two superb team goals before half-time and they went into the break leading 2-1; somewhat luckily. New Kop hero Llorente then added a third just after the break to all but guarantee the three points. Sunderland made it interesting was Asamoah Gyan made in 3-2 with 6 minutes left, but they couldn't find an equaliser and Liverpool snuck back to Merseyside with the three points.
To finish things off in September was another Europa League group match, versus Karpaty of the Ukraine. What is fast becoming a regular occurance, was Fernando Llorente scoring; such he did in first half injury time before being hauled off to watch the second half from the stands and enjoy a well earned rest. Luis Suarez added a second, his first goal since the qualifying rounds of the competition, and again, Liverpool saw out a comfortable win.
Liverpool find themselves joint top of the league with great rivals, Manchester United on 14 points after six games. Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Everton are all a further point behind, waiting to pounce. The League Cup draw wasn't particularly nice to the Anfield club, as they have to travel to London to face Chelsea in Round Four.
All in all a very encouraging opening couple of months this season and something for Encurtidos to build on.
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October started well for Liverpool with a 2-0 home win over Fulham at Anfield. Luis Suarez carried on this month as he ended last with both goals. He kept the streak going with a goal at White Hart Lane the following weekend in a game where Liverpool went 1-0 down to a Peter Crouch header. Suarez and then Llorente turned it around for the Reds for a big win against 4th placed Spurs.
It was back to Europa League action next and Auxerre were the visitors to the North West of England. Llorente and Suarez added to their growing reputation as one of Europe's most deadly strikeforces as they both scored to put Liverpool 2-0 up. Ex-Red striker Anthony Le Tallec converted a penalty on his Anfield return and Martin Kelly was dismissed for his part in the concession of the spot kick. However, Liverpool kicked on and wrapped the game up through, guess who, Fernando Llorente.
Llorente has well and truly softened the blow of his Spanish team-mate Fernando Torres' move to Chelsea. He hasn't stopped scoring since his move from Bilbao, something Torres was struggling to do during the last few months of his spell.
Aston Villa did something that only their Midlands rivals Birmingham had managed to do this season, keep a clean sheet against Liverpool. Steven Gerrard missed a penalty to win the game for the Reds, but a lack of cutting edge in front of goal cost them dear and Villa scuttled back to the Midlands with a point. Like London buses, the next shut out against Liverpool came in the very next game, although somewhat more expected. Chelsea trounced a much weakened visiting side 3-0 in the League Cuop. Drogba scored a brace and Alex completed the rout.
Normal service was resumed on the final day of the month as West Brom, led by Roberto Di Matteo, travelled to Anfield. The deadly duo, Suarez and Llorente, both scored a goal apiece and Clint Dempsey made it 3-0 in the final minute to keep Liverpool in touch with Manchester United at the top of the table.
November began with a trip to Auxerre in France for Encurtidos' Liverpool side, a game in which the manager felt he could rest a few top names due to the three wins from their previous games in this group stage. A draw would see The Reds through, a defeat would still see them sat top with two relatively easy games left. Andy Carroll continued his rehabilitation from the injury which had kept him out for four weeks and took his chance by scoring both of Liverpool's goals in an exciting 2-2 draw.
Back to the Premier League and it was time for the new manager's first taste of the Merseyside Derby. He told the press on the eve of the game he was excited and couldn't wait to experience the atmosphere at Goodison Park. I can bet that he enjoyed it too, as the Kop's new hero, Fernando Llorente netted the only goal with twenty minutes left to ****** a 1-0 win.
High flying Manchester City were Liverpool's next opponents and they arrived at Anfield full of confidence. However, Steven Gerrard put Liverpool 1-0 after just twelve minutes and Liverpool looked to be flying as they had chance after chance, but just before half-time Vincent Kompany equalised for City and they looked to be heading into the break all square. Andy Carroll had other ideas and headed home a Ninis corner. A second half wonder goal from David Silva again put City level and that's how it stayed. A very entertaining game.
Liverpool kept their good unbeaten run going in their next game, with a 2-0 win at the Reebok Stadium against an over-performing Bolton Wanderers side. A delicate Clint Dempsey chip and a thunderous Luis Suarez finish five minutes from time wrapped up the points.
To keep an odd run going, Liverpool then drew their third game of the month 2-2, this time away at West Ham United in the Premier League. A point which sent Liverpool top of the league on goal difference. Suarez scored again, this time from the spot, and Martin Kelly got his first goal for Liverpool before Pablo Barrera and Julien Faubert pegged back The Reds to take a point.
Luis Suarez goalscoring form came to an abrupt end in the final game of the month against bottom of the table Newcastle, when he got himself sent off within two minutes of kick off for a horrendous challenge on Jose Enrique. The dismissal cost him a week's wages (£60,000) and a three game ban. His team-mates battled on to win 1-0 and hold onto top spot. Milan Jovanovic scored his first goal for the club, deputising for Joe Cole.
With 15 league games gone, Liverpool find themselves top of the league thanks to ten wins and five draws. Chelsea are a point behind them and Manchester United, as a result of a home draw against Bolton, find themselves a further point adrift. Both Encurtidos and Liverpool's fans will be delighted with the new man's start and hope it continues for the remainder of the season.
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Another month and another seven games unbeaten for Liverpool. December started with a simple home tie against Basel at Anfield in the Europa League. Luis Suarez and Alfred N'Diaye put Liverpool 2-0 before half time. Basel did get a goal back with seven minutes to go but never really threatened an equaliser. It was another good chance for Encurtidos to rest a few players; Gerrard, Dempsey, Carroll, Agger and Llorente all watched from the bench or stands in preparation for the busy festive period ahead.
Two real tests came back to back in the Premier League with a trip to Stamford Bridge and the visit of Arsenal to Anfield. Liverpool displayed great defesive prowess in both games, but were unfortunately unable to unlock either of the London clubs defences as both games ended 0-0.
Liverpool headed to the Ukraine to play Karpaty in their final Europa League group game with top spot already wrapped up. Not losing was the name of the game, but they more than achieved that coming away with a 3-0 win. Llorente, Suarez and Jamie Carragher all getting their names on the scoresheet.
Molineux was the venue for the Reds next match to face an on form Wolves side. The Black Country side were sitting in 9th position in the Premier League after winning their previous four matches. It was, however, Liverpool who showed their class with Sotiris Ninis and Fernando Llorente both bagging a goal each in a 2-0 victory. The Anfield club were showing they have the bottle to keep top spot their own.
Encurtidos again took an opportunity to rest players when Stoke visited Merseyside on a blustery Wednesday night. It nearly back fired as Stoke took the lead through John Carew. The big Norweigan almost doubled the lead when he hit the cross bar with a powerful header. To the relief of the Anfield crowd, their own big striker Andy Carroll equalised on the stroke of half-time. The second half was scrappy, with both teams missing clear cut chances to take the lead, but Liverpool nabbed a last minute winner through Luis Suarez, tucking home a rebound after Sorensen saved from a Carroll strike.
Bottom of the table Blackpool were the victims of a fine display in the last match of 2010. Llorente put his side ahead, before Ian Evatt put through his own goal to make it 2-0 at half-time. DJ Campbell got Blackpool back into it with a goal straight after the break, but Kiko, Carroll and Llorente again put Blackpool to the sword and cemented Liverpool's place at the top of the Premier League table going into 2011.
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2011 has begun fairly well for Encurtidos and his side, but they haven't been helping themselves by adding to their already hectic schedule. But first things first, there was the small matter of the transfer window opening and Encurtidos wasn't going to miss an opportunity to strengthen his squad. Gervinho signed from Lille for £16,500,000 to add to the already strong group of wingers at the club. Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain also joined from Southampton for £3,000,000, but the 17 year old will probably only make the odd few appearances as the staff at Anfield groom him for the future. Maxi Rodriguez left for Marseille for £4,000,000 and Daniel Pacheco went to spend the rest of the season on loan in La Liga with Almeria.
Back to the action and Liverpool's first game was at St Andrews against a struggling Birmingham City. Martin Skrtel opened the scoring and Clint Dempsey made the game safe with four minutes left on the clock. An efficient, if unexciting, opening fixture to 2011.
A trip to Lancashire was next on the agenda to play Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League. Dempsey scored again to increase his growing reputation and Fernando Llorente bagged his first of the New Year in another super-efficient 2-0 win.
Sunderland were the first visitors to Anfield in 2011 and stunned their hosts by taking an early 2-0 lead in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Asamoah Gyan and Kieran Richardson got the goals. Liverpool were level before half-time though thanks to Joe Cole and Llorente, but they couldn't break down the Black Cats in the second half so an extra fixture was to be added to the schedule.
Gervinho was unveiled in front of the Kop prior to the next game against old rivals Manchester United. He was thrown straight into the first team to make his debut and what a debut it was. Captain Steven Gerrard put the Reds 1-0 up early on, but from then on it was the Gervinho show. He scored twice and picked up the man of the match award to seal a magnificent team display in the 3-0 win to secure top spot.
A midweek trip to the North East was next for the FA Cup replay versus Sunderland. Despite Gyan scoring again to put Sunderland 1-0, it ended up being somewhat of an easy victory for the visitors. Gerrard, a Gyan own goal, Joe Cole and Andy Carroll all scored in a 4-1 win to set up a fourth round tie at Anfield with Sheffield United.
The leaders unbeaten record was nearly ended by Wigan Athletic in a scrappy game at the JJB Stadium. Manchester United loanee Tom Cleverley put the hosts 1-0, before super sub Oxlaide-Chamberlain scored a delightful lob with eight minutes remaining to ****** a point. Encurtidos looked glad to get away with a point.
Anyone who watched Liverpool's games will still be scratching their heads as to how they didn't go away with victory. It was the FA Cup fourth round against Championship side Sheffield United. Admittedly, the visitors are into the League Cup final so have some sort of cup pedigree, but even so should be no match for the leaders of the Premier League. The game finished 1-1. Gervinho scored again to make it 1-0, but Richard Cresswell equalised in the dying minutes to set up a replay at Bramall Lane. Liverpool had 19 attempts on goal to United's three, but failed to take their chances when they came and now have another un-wanted fixture to contend with.
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It was a bit of an up and down February for Liverpool as the season got nearer the business end and the fixtures came thick and fast.
A Premier League clash with Steve Bruce's Sunderland side was Encurtidos' first assignment. One they scraped through thanks to another late goal, this time from Clint Dempsey to ****** a 2-1 win after Luis Suarez' opener had been cancelled out by Jordan Henderson.
Liverpool's form continued to stutter when they travelled to West London to face Fulham at Craven Cottage. They found themselves 2-0 down within half an hour thanks to a Zoltan Gera brace. Fernando Llorente scored right before half-time to give the Reds hope. That goal obviously knocked the stuffing out of Fulham as Clint Dempsey scored on his return to his former club five minutes after the break and Andy Carroll completed the comeback with six minutes left.
Sotiris Ninis and Andy Carroll both got on the scoresheet in the FA Cup 4th round replay at Bramall Lane to wrap up a simple 2-0 victory - something the players and their manager would have much rather done in the first game at Anfield. The win set up a tie away at Swansea in Round Five.
Encurtidos suffered his second defeat as Liverpool manager, this time at the hands of Werder Bremen in the first knockout round first leg of the Europa League. Llorente missed a penalty, which would've given Liverpool the lead and that all important away goal. Instead Claudio Pizarro scored the solitary goal of the game to hand the hosts a 1-0 lead going into the second leg.
Three days after returning from Germany, Liverpool were leaving England again, this time for their FA Cup 5th round fixture at the Liberty Stadium, to face Swansea. In what is becoming a bit of an unwanted habit, Liverpool again drew in the FA Cup to add a third replay to the fixture list. Ferrie Bodde cancelled out Kiko's opener and David Cotterill equalised again after Gervinho had put his side ahead for the second time. Neither side could ****** a winner, so they'll try again at Anfield.
Liverpool's fourth cup game in a row this month was the second leg of their Europa League clash with Bremen. Things couldn't have started much worse for the home side as Ukra put the Germans 1-0 up and 2-0 up on aggregate. But the away goal meant Liverpool needed three goals to go through. It was still 0-1 at half time. Within thirty seconds of the restart, Gerrard had got a goal back and it was game on. Suarez put his side ahead on the night and set up a frantic last twenty minutes. But no matter what they threw at the visitors, they couldn't find that all important third goal and crashed out at the first knockout stage. Disappointing.
Now the Europa League was no longer a distraction, Liverpool could concentrate on trying to win their first Premiership title and the next match was at the Hawthorns against West Brom. Lucas netted his first of the season with a fine fifteen yard volley and Luis Suarez struck for the 15th time this season to make it 2-0. That's how it stayed and thanks to the other title contenders dropping points, Liverpool went four points clear with a game in hand. With only 10 games remaining, the title really is there for the taking. The experts are saying March could be the month when the title is won and lost.
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March began with an FA Cup replay versus Swansea at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0 in a scrappy, nervy affair, but a win's a win and Liverpool will face West Brom at home in the sixth round.
Back to the Premier League and West Ham were the next visitors to Anfield. And what all Liverpool fans had been dreading finally arrived... a defeat. Scott Parker opened the scoring with a crisp drive from the edge of the box, only for Martin Skrtel to equalise. Liverpool then spent the remaining sixty minutes trying to grab a winner, only for Danny Wilson to score an injury time own goal to give West Ham the three points. The pack took full advantage, all winning to close in on the League leaders.
West Brom made the trip to Merseyside for their FA Cup tie and were sent packing rather convincingly. Gervinho opened the scoring and Joe Cole added two more, taking a rare chance in the starting eleven. Marc-Antoine Fortune grabbed a late consolation goal, but it was Liverpool who would be in the semi final draw... where they will play Manchester United.
The pressure of leading the way then seemed to be getting to Encurtidos men. What also wasn't helping was the injury to Fernando Llorente, who hadn't played all month, but should be back for the final ten games or so. Tottenham came to Anfield and took a point. It should have been more, they took the lead through van der Vaart and dominated the game, but young right back Martin Kelly snatched an equaliser and what could be a vital point come the end of the season.
Then Liverpool went to Villa Park and again threw two more points. Nigel Reo-Coker was sent off after ten minutes, but despite 22 attempts at goal, Liverpool couldn't find a goal. The 0-0 draw meant The Reds' next opponents, Manchester City, were able to draw level at the top of the table. Next month's tie at the City of Manchester Stadium has been billed as the title decider. It is thought that should Liverpool lose, they will fall away.
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After a shaky March, April started with just the result that was needed. A 1-0 win at the City of Manchester Stadium propelled Encurtidos' side back to the top of the table. Steven Gerrard scored the winner with a fine 25 yard free kick.
Another 1-0 win followed, although this time it wasn't the best of performances. Luis Suarez got the goal to sink Bolton Wanderers at Anfield and keep Liverpool at the summit. Bolton had their chances, Kevins Davies being the main culprit.
It was then derby day again, with Everton travelling across Stanley Park to take on their bitter rivals and they would love to put a dent into Liverpool's title crudentials. The game didn;t get going until the final twenty minutes. Captain fantastic Gerrard opened the scoring with another stunning free kick, but Mikel Arteta brough the Toffees level five minutes later. It was that man Gerrard again though who saved the day with an injury time winner, smashing home after a goal mouth scramble. Liverpool were still going strong.
Encurtidos then had his first experience of leading a side out at Wembley Stadium in the FA Cup Semi Final, where Manchester United were the opponents. It was a day to remember as Martin Skrtel and an Lindegaard own goal sealed a 2-0 win for the Merseysiders. They were into the final, to face West Ham in a repeat of the 2006 Final.
Before they could think about another Wembey appearance though, there was the small matter of a trip to St James' Park to face struggling Newcastle. It didn't go to plan. Despite taking a 2-0 lead through Suarez and Gervinho, Liverpool managed to avoid victory! Newcastle got back to 2-2, and despite Gerrard putting Liverpool back ahead, they didn't give up and stole an 86th minute equaliser. Important points dropped, as Chelsea's 4-0 win over Birmingham put them level on points with Liverpool, but their seven goal advantage over them put the Blues in first place.
Liverpool's next fixture.... Chelsea at Anfield....
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Chelsea's visit to Anfield was being marked as the biggest game of the season and potentially the title decider. The two teams went into the game level on points, with Chelsea having a significant advantage on goal difference. But it was the side in red who prevailed, with Fernando Llorente ending his ten hour goal drought at the perfect time to score the only goal of the game to send the Kop mental. A massive win, but another tough task awaited with a trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal.
Arsenal have been off the boil this season, mainly due to Arsene Wenger's decision to take over at Sevilla during February. Even so, they were still a dangerous side and Liverpool needed to be at their best to beat them. And at their best they were. The deadly duo of Suarez and Llorente tore the Arsenal defence apart on numerous ocassions. Llorente scored twice either side of a goal from his bucked toothed partner. A convincing win kept Liverpool top, but even better was the result from Stamford Bridge, where Manchester United had done their rivals a massive favour by drawing 2-2 with the Blues. Liverpool were now five points clear with two games left, meaning that they could wrap up the title at home against Wolves the following weekend.
Anfield was rocking pre-kick off and the rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone was the loudest it's been for years. Liverpool were 90 minutes away from their first title since 1990.
It was a nervous first half, with Liverpool desperate to get a goal but also wary not to concede; one point would be better than none. Within ten minutes of the second half starting Encurtidos, the players and the fans got what they wanted - a goal. Christophe Berra was the unlikey scorer, putting through his own net in front of a delirious Kop. Wolves looked beaten and they finally were ten minutes from time when Llorente netted his 23rd of the season to clinch the title.
Encurtidos has been hailed as a Liverpool hero, winning the title in his first season with a cup final to come.
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Before the last game of the Premier League season there was the small matter of a trip to Wembley for the FA Cup Final. Liverpool versus West Ham United. West Ham were the only side to beat Liverpool in the Premier League this season, winning 2-1 at Anfield.
Liverpool had everyone fit bar Daniel Agger and Alex Chamberlain was suspended; it's unlikely the young winger would have started the game anyway with Joe Cole and Gervinho on such good form. Matthew Upson was the only injury doubt for West Ham. The England international would have to take a late fitness test before the teams were announced.
Having wrapped up the Premier League title during midweek meant Encurtidos' men were going into the came with great confidence. Whereas West Ham were hoping to end an average campaign on a high with some cup success.
The teams were announced an hour or so prior to kick off with little surprise in either managers' selections.
West Ham: Green; Jacobsen, Reid, Ilunga, Bridge; O'Neil, Parker(c), Barrera, Dyer; Obinna, Ba.
Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Wilson, Aurelio; Lucas, Gerrard (c), Cole, Gervinho; Suarez, Llorente
Luis Suarez seemed to be in the right place at the right time during the first ten minutes, but couldn't convert any of the three chances that fell his way, twice missing the target and once testing Robert Green.
It was then the turn of West Ham to attack with Gary O'Neil sending a shot fizzing past Reina's right hand post. But within seconds Liverpool had broken away and Fernando Llorente was put through by Lucas only for Green to deny him with a fine save to his left. It was end to end stuff in the first twenty minutes.
Twenty-five minutes in and we had the first goal of the game. A Gerrard corner was cleared straight back to him out on the right flank, he played a clever ball to Fernando Llorente on the edge of the West Ham box - his first touch was perfect and his left footed low drive sublime. It flew past Green into the bottom corner to send the Red end of Wembley barmy. 1-0 Liverpool.
The game was as good as finished, strangley by referee Howard Webb, when he decided to send off West Ham's Ilunga for an innocuous challenge on Llorente. Webb seemed to indicate Ilunga was the last man and denied the Spaniard a goalscoring opportunity. The West Ham players were incensed. And to add insult to injury, Fernando Llorente found himself through one-on-one with Green two minutes later and made it 2-0.
At half time, West Ham replaced Victor Obinna with young centre-half Jordan Spence, obviously trying to sure things up at the back - probably not the best plan of attack when 2-0 in the Cup Final. Liverpool also made a chance, bringing on legendary defender Jamie Carragher for injured Martin Skrtel.
Five minutes into the second half and Demba Ba had a golden opportunity to put West Ham back into the game, but fluffed his lines and fired straight at Pepe Reina from 10 yards. As per the first half, Liverpool went straight up the other end and Steven Gerrard fired in a blistering 25 yard drive, but Green was there again to tip over.
Luis Suarez was replaced by Andy Carroll on 67 minutes and he ran straight onto the pitch as Liverpool had a corner. Carragher headed Lucas' delivery goalwards, Green parried straight back into the melee only for it to fall at Carroll's feet... but he skied his first touch high into the West Ham fans gathered behind the goal.
The next twenty minutes were pretty tame, with Liverpool trying to see the game out until they saw a chance to attack with five minutes to go. Joe Cole flew down the right and whipped a far post cross in which was met by Gervinho who slid in and tucked home Liverpool's third and his seventh of the season - which only began in January.
The remaining five minutes looked like a training session with both sides knowing the game was over. The Liverpool fans celebrated and their manager beamed on the touchline. A League and Cup double in his first season on Merseyside.
FA Cup Final 2011
Llorente (26, 42)
West Ham Utd... 0
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Liverpool finished their season with a dead rubber at the Brittania Stadium against 11th placed Stoke. The away fans partied, the sun shone and Liverpool went goal crazy. They put five past hapless Stoke with Llorente getting another two (8 in his last 5), Skrtel, Ngog and Gerrard got the other three. Stoke did get two of their own, but the Champions showed their class.
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Feedback would be appreciated, mainly to break up this enormous ****** post Tried to post it in monthly updates, but they've all merged into one it seems.