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Liverpool: The Liverbird Rising From The Ashes

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Liverpool finally announce new manager


When Liverpool chairman, Thomas Werner, announced Kenny Dalglish had been sacked, rumours surrounding who was to be the next manager exploded throughout the world. Sacked by the Reds for a disappointing league campaign after 18 months on the job – in which he managed to lose the faith of the board. A statement on the club's official website read: "Fenway Sports Group (FSG) and Liverpool Football Club announce that Kenny Dalglish is to leave his post today as Manager after having his contract terminated. After a careful and deliberative review of the season, the Club came to the decision that a change was appropriate. It is not a decision that was reached lightly or hastily. The search for a new Manager will begin immediately."
However, it has now been two weeks since the sacking of Dalglish, and the club were still without a manager yesterday morning. A number of big names were being bounced around by the press as they attempted to guess the Liverpool manager. The Daily Telegraph reported rumours that Rafa Benitez was on the verge on resigning with his former club, but Benitez quickly rejected them, and then abruptly signed with rivals Chelsea.
Werner caused an upset among Swansea fans and officials, and Brendan Rodgers left the club, expecting to sign with Liverpool. The Welsh club were promoted to the Premier League this season under the guidance of Rodgers, but when Liverpool came calling, he just couldn’t reject them. However, Werner then told him he had chosen not to sign him. By then, it was too late for Rodgers. Swansea acted fast to get the signature of Michael Laudrup, and had already confirmed their new man when Rodgers asked to return to them. The American owner was repeatedly criticised by the press, but rejected the notion that it was his fault for Rodgers leaving Swansea.
He soon signed his own man though. At 11.am yesterday morning, Liverpool sent out a press release announcing their new boss. 33 year old Englishman, Chris Blackett, was the man he had chosen. Why? Nobody knows. The unproven ex-ice hockey player has no credentials what-so-ever. It has been rumoured he is on a one-year contract, worth £44,000 a week. It is yet to be seen in what direction this young, but passionate, Blackett takes Liverpool in. . . .
 
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Oh, btw, could do with some advice on signings and who to sell. would prefer to build for the future, but any suggestions would be nice!
 
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Preseason

Pre-season for Liverpool “okay”, according to new manager


Chris Blackett was forced to head into the season without making a single transfer as his budget had been taken away by his predecessor. However, the young Englishman claimed the squad was “heading in the right direction”, but he still wanted to put his stamp on the club. The club’s pre-season schedule looks like this:
· Chunnam
· Carlisle
· Real Madrid
Blackett said he proposed to use the club’s two Europa League qualifying matches to test some new tactics and line-ups, and then use the Madrid game to give the squad a tough test to see how they should fare against the top teams, such as the Manchesters and Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham.





Chunnam 3-2 Liverpool
Despite taking an early lead through Fabio Borini’s 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] minute goal, Liverpool fell unexpectedly to K-League side, Chunnam. Two quick-fire goals from Young-Kon and Simon gave the home side a 2-1 lead after just a quarter of an hour. Sebastian Coates levelled the game with an excellent header on the hour mark, but the winner cam just 15 minutes later from Na Tae-Man.

Liverpool 1-0 JJK (Euro Cup 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] round qualifier, 1[SUP]st[/SUP] leg)
A scoreless 1[SUP]st[/SUP] half began awkwardly for Liverpool, as they struggled to keep possession from their dogged opponents. Late on however, chances were created, culminating in a Luis Suarez header being knocked inches past the post by the keeper. Early 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] half chances and a spell of dominance around the hour mark saw Liverpool put frustrated effort after frustrated effort either right at the keeper or wide of the post. However, with just 11 minutes remaining, substitute Coutinho laid the ball back for Johnson, who whipped a cross into the six-yard box for Stewart Downing to fire a powerful header home. “I thought we were poor,” Blackett said post-game. “Against a better side, we would have most certainly lost the game. I was pleased to be able to debuts to some of the youngsters and some of our new player. I thought Coutinho and Sturridge played very well when they came on.”

Liverpool 0-0 Carlisle
The League 1 side were somehow able to withstand the barrage from Liverpool, ending the game with a 0-0 draw. With 64% possession, Liverpool were clearly dominating the game, but were simply unable to put the ball in the back of the net. The fact that just 4 of Liverpool’s 21 shots were on target shows that the quality of finishing was truly awful. “I’m not too happy with the result, but there were positives. We controlled possession really well, but we just couldn’t finish. That’s key, because we need to be able to seize on our chances in the big games.”

JJK 1–1 Liverpool
A dreary first half saw Liverpool fall behind to a surprise goal from JJK, but the home never really got another chance after that. An early second half equaliser from a corner was disallowed, the assistant ruled Carragher to be offside, boy it was close. Liverpool began more attacking in the second half, and really pushed for the equaliser, but it wasn’t until the 85[SUP]th[/SUP] minute that it came. A quick cross from Gerrard pinged around the penalty area, until Stevie G crashed a second cross in again, this time it fell to Suarez at the back post, who netted it on his second attempt.




Liverpool 0-2 Real Madrid
Liverpool failed to cause an upset, despite the dealer playing the cards in their favour. Two goals 10 minutes apart in the early going settled the game before it had even started. Angel Di Maria grabbed the first, and Xabi Alonso got the second on his return to Anfield. Just past the hour mark and everything seemed to turn in Liverpool’s favour. Sergio Ramos got himself a second yellow, and thus a red, four minutes before Alonso earned himself the same fate and joined his teammate in the dressing room. Still, Madrid took 52% of the possession and only allowed 9 shots (3 on target) from Liverpool.

“Personally, I don’t think our pre-season went too badly. I think we could have got ourselves some better results, but we managed to get ourselves into the rhythm of things early on. Introducing new players and new philosophies was always going to be difficult, but we coped well and I can see us giving the top teams a run for their money, and maybe even challenging for Champions League qualification.”
 
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Oh, btw, could do with some advice on signings and who to sell. would prefer to build for the future, but any suggestions would be nice!
sign
wellington nem £3.5m release clause
ademilson around £5.25m

sell
brad jones
stewart downing
 
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sign
wellington nem £3.5m release clause
ademilson around £5.25m

sell
brad jones
stewart downing
thanks, but no thanks...
1) Wellington Nem, although I'd love to get him, now has a £17.5m release clause (may think of getting him next summer)
2) Downing is in my first team plans, as I think he's a pretty good player
3) I can't sell Brad Jones...
 
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August

Liverpool stumble out of the starting blocks


With a new manager, new system and new players, Liverpool’s supporters didn’t know what to expect with the new team. An “okay” pre-season didn’t reveal much to even the most educated fan. Liverpool’s August fixture list:
· Norwich, away, Premier League
· Tromso, home, Europa League
· Wigan, home, Premier League
· Tromso, away, Europe League

Norwich 1-0 Liverpool
A surprising opening-day loss for the Reds came at the hands of newly-promoted Norwich. Despite fielding a full strength side, Blackett was unable to pull his side out with even a single point. This wasn’t a one sided affair; in fact, Norwich actually had 52% possession, and Liverpool only managed one shot more than the Canaries. So what went wrong? The new tactics still seem to be setting in for a number of players, but overall it was just unfortunate that Liverpool lost. Defending set-pieces was an issue for Liverpool, which was noticeable when the Norwich goal went in. While the tackling department was dominated by Liverpool, Michael Turner stepped up and controlled the play – he set the tempo, directed the play, and thwarted his opponent’s attacks. Gerrard and Allen quickly lost their energy, and that showed in the midfield battle, in which Norwich controlled possession (32% to 30%). Another issue was possession in their own third, in which Norwich took 3% more of the ball. Now, we can sit here and admire the numbers, but what it all boils down to it; Liverpool clearly aren’t ready to win.

Liverpool 2-0 Tromso
The Reds came out with a purpose in Europe, and Tromso simply didn’t have an answer. After just two minutes, Liverpool were awarded a free kick from just outside of the box. For the second, Downing played a soft ball into Gerrard, who placed a beautiful return ball back to the England winger. Downing was never going to miss from there; he slotted a wonderful shot back the right hand of the keeper. This was pure domination. 61% possession and 12-3 on shots tell the full story. But what can we expect from Liverpool; a dominating, attacking, winning team, or a disappointing, lose-to-the-underdogs team? A kind opening sequence should have provided Liverpool with some easy points, but now Blackett needs to challenge his team to prove they can win, even if the teams they beat aren’t the best. Their next game – against Wigan – will be crucial, without a win, they will lose ground mentally, as well as in the table.






Liverpool 2-0 Wigan
In a potentially crucial game, former Champions League winners Liverpool were given odds of 4-6 for a win. After half an hour of controlling possession – at times – Liverpool were awarded a free-kick, within Gerrard range. It was the result of Paul Scharner’s second yellow of the game, a red card it was and an early trip to the bath. Stevie G it was who stepped up to take it, but it rebounded back off the wall. The Reds’ captain headed into the melee in the penalty area, and a lucky bounce took it to Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool’s new £12m striker. The young Englishman tucked it home with supreme confidence. Sturridge’s first Liverpool goal held up as the leader until half-time. The second half began with some confident passing from the home side, resulting in Wigan chasing them round – out of position most of the time. After all most five minutes of Liverpool possession, Stewart Downing took control of the ball on the left flank. Playing little one-twos with a couple of players, he made his made into the penalty area. With the Wigan defenders still slightly out of position, a perfect passing lane opened itself up. Downing found it, and Sturridge slammed in his second of the game. It turned out to be a comfortable win, with Liverpool ending the game with 58% possession. An unbelievable 27-1 shot total proved Liverpool were in control.


Tromso 1-0 Liverpool
With a comfortable 2-0 lead going into the second leg, Liverpool were in no danger of losing out, but they were determined to win the game. But the Norwegian team came out fighting, and Liverpool simply didn’t have an answer to begin with. After just half an hour, Gjovaag gave Tromso an unlikely lead. With Liverpool staring at a defeat, a huge penalty shout was raised by Daniel Agger, but the referee denied them. Liverpool led possession 62%-38%, but just couldn’t create any real chances, despite the 8 shots on target.


Comment:
“This was a relatively disappointing start to the season for me. We were lucky enough to be eased into the competition without any big games early on, but we simply couldn’t put the teams to the dagger and win the games. I’m pleased we took a win against Wigan, and we lie in 8[SUP]th[/SUP], but we could be much higher up the table. Progression of any sort is nice, but once again I would have preferred two wins out of two. We need to come up big in tough times, but at the minute we simply haven’t got that cutting edge.”

Super Sevens: (Average rating of more than 7.00)








Jamie Carragher – 7.25
Steven Gerrard – 7.25
Glen Johnson – 7.24
Jose Enrique – 7.13
Martin Skrtel – 7.13
Daniel Agger – 7.13
Stewart Downing – 7.12
Daniel Sturridge – 7.10
Martin Kelly – 7.03
Lucas Leiva – 7.00

Transfer News:



Mattia De Sciglio – loan (full season, 100% wages), can purchase for £16,000,000 at any time.
 
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Europa League groups drawn, transfer deadline passes by


The first order of business for Chris Blackett in September was attending the Europa League group draw. Liverpool were seeded first, and therefore would be the automatic favourites. The groups:
A)
BATE, Levante, CSKA Moscow, Debrecen
B)
PSV, Young Boys, Slask, Metalist
C)
Lech, Olympique Lyonnais, FC Twente, AA Gent
D)
Tottenham, Academica, Hannover, Malaga
E)
Leverkusen, Dnipro, Dynamo Bucharest, Lazio
F)
Liverpool, FC Vaslui, Maritimo, Stuttgart
G)
Girondins Bordeaux, Ludogorets, Fenerbahce, CFR Cluj
H)
AZ, AIK, Sparta Prague, Athletico Madrid
I)
Mlada Boleslav, OM, Newcastle, Napoli
J)
Maribor, Lille, Athletic, Gladbach
K)
Inter, Trabzonspor, Helsingborg, Rubin
L)
Udinese, Zilina, Sporting, Slovan Liberec
“I believe we have been given a fairly even group. It is not a spectacular group, and we’ll certainly have to play well to progress, but it’s an even group. All the teams are roughly on the same level, but I think we should be able to progress.”

Transfer deadline day:
Top 10 transfers of the summer:







1) Maroune Fellaini – Everton to Manchester City, £27.5m
2) Marek Hamsik – Napoli to Manchester Utd, £27m
3) Diego Perotti – Sevilla to Tottenham, £22m
4) Sandro – Tottenham to Manchester City, £19.5m
5) David Alaba – FC Bayern to Manchester Utd, £18m
6) Adrian – Athletic Madrid to Chelsea, £15.75m
7) Ola Toivonen – PSV to Tottenham, £15m
8) Hatem Ben Arfa – Newcastle to Manchester City, £14m
9) Tom Cleverly – Manchester Utd to Tottenham, £12.75m
10) Anderson – Manchester Utd to Athletic Madrid, £9m
 
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September

September "on target" for new Liverpool boss


· West Ham, away, Premier League
· Reading, home, Premier League
· FC Vaslui, home, Europe League group F
· Tottenham, away, Premier League
· Swansea, home, Capital One Cup
· Aston Villa, home, Premier League
“We have some tough games this month. Tottenham will, undoubtedly, be the most difficult to win, but we also have Reading and Swansea, who we do not know much about. FC Vaslui will be difficult in the Europa League as we have never played them before, but that goes both ways. Hopefully, we can get around nine or ten points from this month, plus progression in the Capital One Cup – without the need of a replay.”



West Ham 2-3 Liverpool
Young De Sciglio was handed his debut for Liverpool to give Johnson a much-needed rest, while Andy Carroll was given a miss and not selected for this game. After just 5 minutes, Suarez streaked down the right flank, leaving the West Ham defender standing still. The cross to Sturridge – starting his first game for Liverpool this season – was perfect, and the Englishman gladly tucked it home. Twenty minute later, a foul by Tomkins on Sturridge gifted Liverpool a free kick in a prime goal-scoring area. Jonjo Shelvey stepped up confidently and powered it top corner for his first of the season. A wonderful West Ham counter attack saw O’Neill place a perfect cross into Maroune Chamakh’s path, who placed the first-time shot into the far corner. A mistake by rookie De Sciglio gave Jarvis the ball, Jarvis then played a beautiful one-two with Chamakh before curling a cross towards O’Neill, who headed in the equaliser. Suarez picked the ball up on the right with just 5 minutes remaining, and played the pass-of-the-season over the defence for Sturridge. Sturridge raced away from the defence and put a neat lob over the diving keeper and into the net, brushing the far post on the way in. A late chance from Downing was denied by a combination of goalkeeper Par Hansson and ex-teammate at Middlesbrough, Emanuel Pogatetz. Liverpool were able to contain West Ham for the rest of the game and deny a couple of late rushes to secure the three points.





Liverpool 3-1 Reading
Borini and Coutinho were both granted their first start’s for Liverpool as the Reds hoped to secure their third successive Premier League win. The game began lively with neither team able to hold possession, but both got forward quickly. The first break through came after 10 minutes; Henderson picked the ball up in the centre of the park, quick passes to Coutinho, Borini and finally Sturridge preceded Sturridge’s third goal in two games. Liverpool’s second came just 3 minutes later. Suarez’s cross bounced all the way out to Jose Enrique on the left wing, who pumped the ball back into the box. Coutinho attempted to knock the ball past Adam Federici, but he saved it. The rebound bounced fortunately to Sturridge, who bundled the ball over the line in a scramble against two Reading defenders. The third came 5 minutes into the second half; Sturridge drew two defenders in close before playing a perfectly-weighted pass forward for Coutinho, who cleverly lobbed the keeper for his first-ever Liverpool goal. Pepe Reina was kept reasonably busy as he had to make a few decent saves to keep Liverpool 3 goals ahead – Le Frondre had a number of cracks at goal, but none were too difficult. Sturridge’s hat-trick came with 15 minutes remaining after Gerrard and Allen combined to set him up for a one-on-one with Federici. Gerrard and Allen, with new-found chemistry in the midfield, combined once again to provide Suarez with a point-blank chance, but the Uruguay international could only find the side-netting. As Manchester United dropped another two points, Liverpool climbed up to 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] place, behind Newcastle, with 9 points.








Liverpool 2-1 FC Vaslui
Blackett’s real European debut came at home against Romania’s Liga 1 runners-up, FC Vaslui. Following a disappointing, scoreless first-half, Blackett put Gerrard on and gave Sebastien Coates his first appearance of the season. It all came good when a wonderful passing move involving Coates, Allen, Gerrard and Henderson set up Jose Enrique. Enrique finished the move by smashing it top corner, miles out of the reach of the Vaslui keeper. Liverpool failed to capitalise on their dominance – 59% possession – and the game ended 1-0. “A win is a win,” said Chris Blackett. “We controlled possession, but had our pre-season issues of goal scoring return. It is something we need to make second nature – goals need to come easily and naturally for us to be successful.”





Tottenham 1-0 Liverpool
Arguably the first real test for Liverpool came in the shape of Champions League hopefuls, Tottenham. Gerrard and Leiva returned to the line-up to spell youngsters Coutinho and Henderson, as Blackett went for experience despite the youngsters playing very well recently. A fairly even 1[SUP]st[/SUP] half came and went without much really to deliberate about. Tottenham took 52% of the possession and the only shot on target. Great build up play on the left flank involving Allen and Leiva gave Enrique the opportunity to cross to Gerrard, who slammed a header of the post. With the game nearing the end, Liverpool began to push forward more often, and Tottenham were forced to sit back and defend with their lives. However, a Tottenham throw in found Lennon, who floated a cross into an unmarked Toivonen. Toivonen, not expecting the cross, dived full-stretch to knock the ball home. With 10 minutes remaining, Pepe Reina stepped up with a huge save on Lennon to keep scoring close. Unfortunately that was all that was going to happen, and the game ended not long after with Tottenham winning 1-0. “I think we were unlucky to be honest. We didn’t control possession as much as we wanted – or normally do – but we still got chances. But once again, we failed to convert those chances into goals and we only had 2 shots on target out of our 8 attempts.”






Liverpool 2-1 Swansea, Capital One Cup (3[SUP]rd[/SUP] round)
With an upset already this weekend, Liverpool headed into their match against Swansea with caution. Manchester United lost to Championship club Birmingham City with a score of 2-1. Goals from Hall and King overcame van Persie’s lone United goal. A struggling Daniel Agger was given the start along with Coates and De Sciglio on a new-look back-four. Suarez was relegated to the bench while Henderson and Coutinho returned. Michael Vorm was forced to make a number of good saves early on, including a Gerrard drive that he could only tip over the bar. Both teams were limited to long range shots in the early going, resulting in a number of chances being wasted. Sturridge returned to form to put Liverpool in front with a sublime finish. Kyle Bartley’s misplaced back-pass gifted Sturridge a one-on-one, but three defenders managed to get back to complicate proceedings. However, Sturridge managed to weave the ball in between the tangle of Swansea legs. Just three minutes into the second half and Sturridge doubled his team’s advantage. He began the move, and finished it off after Vorm saved Coutinho from point-blank range. Donnelly – on the counter attack – cut inside against Agger and blazed by him before putting Michu in on goal, and it was a simple tap-in for the Spanish forward. Despite being reduced to 10 men through an Oussama Assaidi injury, Liverpool were able to hang on to secure progression to the 4[SUP]th[/SUP] round. Ipswich Town also caused a shocker as they did away with Manchester City after a 2-2 win on penalties. Liverpool were drawn against Birmingham City, who already have a Premier League scalp to admire.





Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa
The final game of the month came at Anfield against Villa with Blackett looking for a win to meet his target of 9 points for the month. Liverpool began the night in 6[SUP]th[/SUP] place, while Villa were win a highly respectable 11[SUP]th[/SUP]. Early on, the Reds controlled possession and soon carved Villa open before taking the lead. Shelvey, Gerrard and Sturridge combined to set Enrique up on the edge of the area, and the Spanish left-back blasted one low past the keeper. Gerrard finally got his first of the season with a perfect first-time shot after De Sciglio and Suarez set it up on the right wing. The first-half began with Aston Villa controlling possession, and Benteke nearly pulled one back, but Reina somehow got a finger to it. At 75 minutes, Suarez whipped a corner towards the top of the siz-yard box where Jamie Carragher was there to power it goal-wards, despite it flying past the keep, it rebounded clear off the post. That was the final real chance at goal for either team, and the game ended at 2-0.

Comment:
“This really wasn’t a bad month; we finally got some wins and some goals under our belt and found a bit of chemistry within our team. We found success with Sturridge up front and Coutinho and the other youngsters succeeded when no one gave them a chance. We could have done with at least a point against Spurs, but we weren’t outplayed too badly. We’re still in the mix here, and we have a chance in every competition we began in.”

Super Sevens: (Top 3 only)






Jose Enrique – 7.80
Daniel Sturridge – 7.76
Luis Suarez – 7.36
Jamie Carragher – 7.36
 
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October

Liverpool show top-4 aspirations


· Stuttgart, away, Europa League group F
· Chelsea, away, Premier League
· Sunderland, home, Premier League
· Maritimo, home, Europa League group F
· Manchester City, away, Premier League
· Birmingham City, away, Capital One Cup 4[SUP]th[/SUP] round
“After dropping three points last month against a team we will be competing with for European qualification, we need to make sure to win all of our games, or at least get a point against Chelsea and Manchester City. With two games in Europe, it will be tough on the travel and the boys will need to work hard just to pull through. It was nice to hear that Daniel Sturridge had won 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] place in the “Player of the Month”, whilst I myself took 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] place in the “Manager of the Month”.





Stuttgart 2-1 Liverpool
The dynamic duo of Henderson and Allen replaced the struggling Lucas Leiva and Jonjo Shelvey. Suarez, once again, was relegated to the bench through Sturridge’s impressive form. With just under 10 minutes gone, Stuttgart were all over Liverpool. Forward Cacau was finding huge amounts of space in the area, and finally netted the first after a Sakai when Downing failed to clear. Just five minutes later, Traore made it 2-0 with a dazzling run through the defence before sliding it under Pepe Reina. Could Liverpool get anything from this match? When Downing picked up the ball on the left flank, it seemed Stuttgart had everything covered, but no. The former Europa League (then UEFA Cup) winner with Middlesbrough sent a lofted ball over the defence that sat up perfectly for Sturridge to drive it home. It was not enough, however, and the game ended at 2-1. “This was not how I envisaged our opening night for this month. We could have won, but we just didn’t play how we could have. It was disappointing to watch us throw away a crucial win.”






Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool
Liverpool entered this tough encounter in 5[SUP]th[/SUP] place, four points behind the leaders Manchester City. Chelsea, on the other hand, were in 8[SUP]th[/SUP], just a point behind the Reds. Leiva and Suarez returned to the line-up, while Coutinho replaced Gerrard through fatigue. With no John Terry, Ivanovic lined up beside Cahill in the centre of the park, with young Azpilitueta at right-back. With just half an hour gone, Liverpool were doing a good job of defending and forcing Chelsea to shoot from long range. However, Eden Hazard, with all his sublime skill, cut in against Johnson and unleashed a wicked shot from the edge of the area. Hazard again used his trickery to create a chance, but Juan Mata was offside when he deflected Hazard’s shot past Reina. A couple of early second half crosses nearly found their way into the net, either missing by inches or by Reina getting a finger to them. Top goal scorer Daniel Sturridge had a one-on-one chance, but floated his shot just wide. Five minutes later, a Downing cross deflected back to Joe Allen, who teed it up and blasted a scorcher past Petr Cech for the equaliser. Steven Gerrard, despite picking up a knock from Gary Cahill earlier, managed to find space to control Stewart Downing’s corner and smash it home. Liverpool just about managed to hang on, despite tiring legs and increasingly desperate Chelsea attacks. Unfortunately, captain Steven Gerrard was diagnosed with a twisted ankle and will be out for 3 weeks. “No doubt, Steven will be a big miss,” said Blackett. “But we have players who can step up and play in his position. I will look to Coutinho to pick up his form and then he could even hold Steven out for a bit if he plays well.”






Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland
With nearly two weeks rest for the Reds following a busy start to October, Gerrard was able to get some of his recovery time over and done with without a game being played. Martin Kelly and Sebastien Coates started the game, along with Daniel Agger, while Borini replaced Suarez on the right wing. A dreary first half came and went with nothing really to deliberate about, but in the second half Liverpool began to push forward, but the best chance came from a 30-yard drive from Jonjo Shelvey, but it just fizzed wide of the post. Shelvey began Liverpool’s break, playing a ball up to Sturridge, who lifted a long pass for Borini to chase. He won the ball and charged in along the goal line. With the keeper trying to cover the back post pass, he left the front post slightly open, and Borini chipped it into the roof of the net. The second came with 15 minutes remaining; Suarez picked the ball up on the right flank of the penalty area, cut inside, and placed a perfect curling shot past Mignolet. It wasn’t all over, Sunderland had a few decent chances, but Reina held the fort and kept Liverpool ahead by two. Liverpool moved up to second place – two points behind Tottenham – with the win.


Liverpool 3-0 Maritimo
In a game Liverpool expected to win comfortably, they had to be alert. But an early goal from Borini gave them the confidence to push forward even more. Raheem Sterling, making his Liverpool debut, received a pass from Johnson before moving it on to Borini, who danced into the area and rifled a low shot past the keeper. A free kick five yards out of the area was set-up perfectly for Coutinho. The Brazilian youngster blasted the shot into the top right-hand corner. Minutes after the restart for the second half, Suarez earned himself a red card for a second yellow (ungentlemanly conduct), putting Liverpool’s position in question. However, Sturridge seized on a wayward back pass to score the third and put the game beyond doubt.






Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool
A tough fixture for the Reds could decide their season. Should they get a win, they could very well earn Champions League qualification, but should they lose, they could go on a downwards spiral and miss Europe all together. Henderson replaced the injured Joe Allen alongside Leiva, while Sturridge was given some much needed rest as Suarez replaced him up front. Yaya Toure is out for City, and that is sure to be a big loss. An awkward cross led to a great save for Reina to keep the first half level, and the teams went into the break at 0-0. Daniel Sturridge was brought on, moving Suarez back to right wing, to provide some extra firepower that would hopefully win the Reds the game. Injuries to Kelly and Coutinho forced Blackett to use the rest of his substitutes earlier than he would have liked. An errant pass from Reina nearly set Aguero up for a goal, but the Spaniard managed to keep the shot out. A quick break down the left flank with Downing proved decisive as he played an exquisite ball over to Suarez, who lobbed a sprawling Joe Hart. A Silva free kick found a combination of Barry and Aguero, and Barry bundles the ball past Reina and Carragher to tie the game. “






Birmingham City 1-2 Liverpool
Shelvey made his first start since September as he replaced the injured Coutinho and Stevie G made a return to the bench after recovering from injury. The first came from a beautiful pass from Leiva found Shelvey, and he turned and blasted one home to give the Reds an early lead. Mid way through the first, Liverpool added a second through Suarez; a goal kick from Reina found Sterling, who played a quick pass into the Uruguayan striker, before Suarez slammed home a left-footed shot. Suarez, however, was forced off through a light injury at the hour mark, meanwhile Blackett gave Gerrard his return following his injury. Birmingham managed to pull one back, but Liverpool’s control on the game prevented them from getting another chance.

Comment:
“I am ecstatic at the turn around this club has witnessed. From struggling in pre-season against League One sides, to beating Chelsea and tying with Man City; it has been amazing. But there are still things to build on and improve. We still need to be more consistent scorers; getting two against real minnows just isn’t enough. But still, dropping just two points in the Premier League is good, but I would have preferred to have beaten Stuttgart, but you can’t have everything.”

Super Sevens: (Top 3 only)





Daniel Agger – 7.68
Jamie Carragher – 7.50
Joe Allen – 7.36


Awards:
Suarez: 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] in goal of the month (vs Man City)
Chris Blackett: 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] in manager of the month
 
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November

Liverpool still going well despite injuries
· Stoke, home, Premier League
· Maritimo, away, Europa League group F
· Swansea, home, Premier League
· FC Vaslui, away, Europa League group F
· West Brom, home, Premier League
“Of the seven fixtures this month, six of them are very winnable, and Iexpect us to take at least 12 points comfortably, plus six points in Europe. The test will come against Arsenal, but it will be a test of character as to whether we win everything after two trips overseas.”



Liverpool 1-1 Stoke
Sturridge, Gerrard and Enrique returned as Raheem Sterling earned his second consecutive start for their home match against Stoke. Stoke’s usual feisty defensive system proved enough to keep Liverpool at bay in the early going, and the Potters even got a couple of chances themselves. A bad challenge by Charlie Adam forced Sturridge to be stretchered off, and Assaidi had to replace him (playing on the wing, Borini up front). A penalty area scramble in the Liverpool end gave Stoke their first real chance, and a lucky bounce took it to Palacios, who hammered it past Reina for the lead. Moments before half time, Borini managed to squirm free to receive an Assaidi pass in space, and he calmly slid the ball into the net to tie the game. While both teams pushed for the winner, it was evident that Stoke’s high pressing was agrivation Liverpool, and they made mistake after mistake. Stoke, however, looked confident on the ball and looked the more likely to score late on, but they didn’t and the game ended 1-1. “The only consolation I can take from this game is that I know Stoke will take points off the other big teams too – they’re a difficult side to play against. We misjudged them; we thought this was going to be an easy game and we simply didn’t have the right attitude. Even our more experienced players came in with the wrong attitude, and they paid for it.”

Maritimo 1-3 Liverpool
Injuries were beginning to bite Liverpool, as Borini became Blackett’s only striker thanks to Sturridge and Suarez being sidelined. Downing and Assaidi returned to the starting line-up to replace Borini and spell Sterling. Despite fielding an under-strength side – in some places – Liverpool managed to go two up within just under 20 minutes. Enrique linked with Downing on the left wing, and the Englishman whipped a cross in to captain Steven Gerrard to nod in at the front post. Five minutes later, Liverpool won a corner. Downing powered it to the far post, where Skrtel managed to find space to head home. A third was added at the half-hour mark when Gerrard stole the ball from defender Guilherme and rolled the ball through the keeper’s legs. Martin Kelly and Raheem Sterling were given a run out as Liverpool looked set to record an easy 3 points in Europe. A late consolation for the home side did nothing to put Liverpool off, and they secured the three points with a 1-3 win. “It was a very good win. For once we didn’t have any trouble scoring goals, and had we not taken our foot off the gas pedal, we could have had maybe 5 or 6. Hopefully we can carry this form on into the league and up of goal difference there.”



Liverpool 1-0 Swansea
With an originally congested fixture list, Liverpool’s next question became “do they have enough depth to succeed”. But thanks to progression in all competitions, rearrangements helped Liverpool to avoid injury troubles. A whole week before the Swansea game gave Coutinho and Suarez time to recover enough to play the next game. While Suarez and Coutinho returned to the bench, Shelvey and De Sciglio went from bench to pitch to spell Gerrard and Johnson. Early possession for a confident Reds side saw the away side pushed back into their own half for the majority of the first half. A corner from Shelvey found Agger, but his header only found its way in after a deflection of Rangel – officially it was an own goal. A so-so second half nearly sent the commentators to sleep – possession is all well and good, but Liverpool have to do something with it in the future. But still, a win is a win and Blackett will be pleased to have picked up three points from a potentially awkward tie.



FC Vaslui 0-2 Liverpool
With Stuttgart three points ahead in Group F, Liverpool needed a comfortable win against Vaslui to catch up on goal difference (Stuttgart are ahead by three). Although a win against the German side would deal with the points, they’re unlikely to beat them by three or four goals. Stuttgart beat Vaslui 2-1 and 0-2 in their games, Liverpool at least need to match that. A more attacking Liverpool side that saw the return of Suarez and Coutinho pressed and pressed for the first goal, but couldn’t quite get it in the early minutes. Substitute Fabio Borini got the first minutes after the second half began; Coutinho played the perfect ball over to Borini, who rifled a volley past the keeper. The second goal came not long after as Gerrard got on the end of Borini’s cross and nodded it home. Despite the comfortable win, Stuttgart stretched their goal difference lead with a 4-1 win over Maritimo.



Liverpool 1-1 West Brom
Liverpool returned from Europe with two games in hand over most of the top 6, but there was still a lot to do to ensure victories to claw back to the top. After voicing his opinions on his manager’s “below-par” team talks, Stewart Downing was dropped from the game squad in favour of Sterling and Assaidi on the right and left flanks. A rather uneventful first half came and went with only a few chances either way, with nothing spectacular. Shane Long gave West Brom the lead on the hour mark with a crack shot into the roof of the net after initially failing to control the cross. Liverpool finally drew level with 15 minutes remaining; Suarez latched on to Sterling’s cross and cannoned his shot off Foster’s right hand and into the top right corner. As the game neared the final whistle, Liverpool began to push forward more and more, but still couldn’t finish of West Brom, and they dropped another two points.

Comment:
“This wasn’t a bad month for us, but we could have done a lot more. With games being rearranged for later in the season, we will have a tougher time to win points later on. We’re going through a difficult time; injuries have taken their toll. Hopefully we can regain our form and win a few more games. Luckily for us, everyone has dropped points, so we’re not too far behind.”

Super Sevens:






Daniel Agger – 7.72
Martin Skrtel – 7.62
Jamie Carragher – 7.40




 
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December

Liverpool's run comes skidding to a halt
· Sunderland, home, Capital One Cup quarter-final
· Stuttgart, home, Europa League group F
· Fulham, away, Premier League
· QPR, away, Premier League
· Everton, away, Premier League
· Arsenal, away, Premier League
· Newcastle, home, Premier League
· Manchester United, home, Premier League
· Wigan, away, Premier League
“This is a very busy month for us, and it will be tough to win everything. The toughest match, in my opinion, will be against Stuttgart. They have the confidence of being unbeaten in the Europa League, and will come to Anfield expecting a win. I think Manchester United will be an easier game – although still very difficult – because they are fairly low on confidence, having lost to Birmingham and West Ham this season. Hopefully we can get through this difficult period and remain within touching distance of the top-4 at least. The trips away to Everton and Arsenal could be back breakers; they’re both bound to be in the same kind of position as us come the end of the season, so we need to make sure to get at least a point in both. Overall, I hope to beat Stuttgart and Sunderland (Europa League and Capital One Cup), and then get at least 17 points in the League.”



Liverpool 1-0 Sunderland
Downing, Assaidi and De Sciglio returned to spell Coutinho, Sterling and Enrique. Despite fielding a full-strength side, Blackett watched, helpless, as his team was hemmed into their own half and press for the opener. Reina stayed strong, however, and kept the game at 0-0 until half-time. The game stayed at 0-0 despite a few near-perfect passing moves by the home side until the late stages, when Blackett moved to an attacking 4-4-2 variation. Coutinho replaced Downing on the left, Borini went up front with Suarez, and Henderson moved forward into a more attacking position. It all came good for Blackett, as Skrtel played a perfect ball to Coutinho. The Brazilian’s shot, however, was saved by Mignolet. The rebound squirted out to Borini, who chipped the ball over the sprawling keeper. Despite late chances for the Reds, the game ended at 1-0 to Liverpool. Arsenal were knocked out by a hard-working Stoke side. Liverpool were drawn against Newcastle for the semi-final (at St James’ Park), the other was Norwich vs. Stoke.



Liverpool 3-3 Stuttgart
With Gerrard still out with an injury, Coutinho replaced a struggling Jonjo Shelvey behind the lone striker. Borini earned a call-up to replace the goal-less Suarez. However, Suarez kept his place in the first-11 as he replaced Downing. The first goal went to the visitors, a free kick allowed Hoogland to cross it in to Divadi, who just put his header past Reina. Coutinho’s corner was whipped into Carragher, and the former England international powered a header in for the equaliser. Traore drove wide against Carragher and sent in a low cross, which Cacau turned in. Sterling and Shelvey replaced Assaidi and Leiva for the second half, but with a number of players looking uninterested, it looked like a tough mountain to climb. But still, another corner yielded a goal for Liverpool as Carragher once again scored from a Coutinho corner. Coutinho got a third assist as his shot rebounded off the post for Borini to tuck into an open goal; 3-2 Liverpool. But when Liverpool failed to clear a corner past Gentner, they allowed the German to level the game. Sterling cut in from the right wing and played an exquisite ball past the defender for Borini to rifle his shot in, but the official ruled it offside. The game ended a disappointing 3-3, and Stuttgart took home to group win.



Fulham 2-2 Liverpool
De Sciglio and Shelvey were granted starts as Johnson and Leiva took a much-needed rest from both training and matches. Carragher and Coates went in at centre-half, while the midfield stayed the same (exc. Shelvey). It didn’t long for Liverpool to get off the mark in what could be a difficult encounter. Despite being dispossessed of the ball, Suarez kept running and intercepted an errant pass from goalkeeper Viera, and slotted the ball neatly into the open net. Liverpool suffered the post-goal sleepiness and Fulham capitalised; Viera made up for his mistake on the opening goal by starting off the move for Fulham’s tying goal. Ruiz and Sidwell combined to send Petric in behind the defence, and he chipped Reina beautifully. A back-and-forth game yielded nothing but wasted chance after wasted chance. After time changes for Liverpool, that saw Downing return to the line-up despite being left out by Blackett for the Englishman’s rebelliousness regarding Blackett’s team talks, the Reds looked a lot more purposeful but still couldn’t grab the go-ahead goal. It was Fulham’s Manolev that finally got the next goal, from a long goal kick to Berbatov, and a beautiful feed from the Bulgarian. Five minutes later, with the game nearing its end, a cross from youngster Yesil (making his debut after replacing Kelly at right-back) found Downing, who put a sublime header into the roof of the net from close range. Fulham managed to hang on to a well-earned point after a 2-2 draw. “I always knew this would be a tough game, but we really should’ve won it. We now have to win everything to meet my initial point target, which will be tough.”



QPR 2-1 Liverpool
13[SUP]th[/SUP]-placed QPR welcomed the 6[SUP]th[/SUP]-placed Reds to Loftus Road with high hopes following Liverpool’s failure to beat Fulham. With Leiva and Johnson taking a much-needed week’s rest – as requested by the physio – Henderson, Shelvey, Gerrard and Coutinho were hard pushed to replace the Brazilian and the injured Allen. With Sturridge recently returned, Blackett had the option to drop Suarez back into the midfield if need be. Following his impressive game-tying goal, Stewart Downing was given the nod on the left-wing, while Suarez returned to the front line. Raheem Sterling looked the liveliest of Liverpool’s men as they began awkwardly, failing to hold possession for any length of time. A quick QPR counter attack that saw Townsend play in Sloth for the opening goal delighted the home crowd – a win was looking more and more likely for the underdogs. A Sterling free kick pinged around in the APR penalty area before falling to Suarez, and the Uruguayan striker potted the equaliser. However, the remained tied for a matter of minutes, and Liverpool’s defensive woes continued, as they allowed their 7[SUP]th[/SUP] goal in two and a half games – Zamora scored with help from Park Ji-Sung. Downing was replaced by Coutinho on the left to allow for Gerrard to get some game time, and hopefully rescue Liverpool from an embarrassing loss. But he could do nothing as Liverpool fell to a far-superior QPR side. For the first time this season, Liverpool were trounced 58%-42% in the possession game. “We just didn’t have the right attitude today. I will be making changes for the next game – I want only players who want to do well and who want to win.”



Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Blackett has called this “the most important Merseyside derby”, citing that this could “make or break” Liverpool’s season. The changes he promised following the QPR defeat were carried out; De Sciglio was punished for speaking out about Blackett’s team talks, and was left at home – Martin Kelly replaced him. Borini and Assaidi replaced Downing and Sterling on the wing, while recovering striker Daniel Sturridge jumped right into the starting line-up, replacing Suarez and Gerrard replaced Henderson. Coates and Skrtel replaced Carragher and Agger at the back. Finally Liverpool managed to get to halftime without conceding – albeit without scoring one themselves. A bore draw looked on the cards for this derby. Suarez and Gerrard were brought on to replace Coutinho and Henderson, with Blackett looking for his first win in three games. With 20 minutes remaining, Liverpool went into an attacking 4-4-2, with Suarez up alongside Sturridge. But it was Everton who reaped the benefits of Liverpool’s change of tactics; Pienaar scored on a Jelevic cross. And despite a late push for a point, Liverpool fell to another disappointing loss to a lesser team. Liverpool fell yet again, this time to 8[SUP]th[/SUP], but a win in their catch-up game would send them level with 5[SUP]th[/SUP]-place Newcastle.



Arsenal 3-0 Liverpool
3[SUP]rd[/SUP]-place Arsenal were highly confident of a victory over the visiting Reds as Blackett’s team enter a tough patch of form. Starting with some trouble over team talks, the players began to become demoralised, something that was not helped as they failed to win their next four games, getting just two points from them. Blackett, despite going with younger, reserve players (such as Martin Kelly) decided to go all-guns-blazing and played all his best players, no matter their morale. Johnson, Leiva, Downing, Gerrard, Assaidi and Suarez all started against the Gunners. Arsenal continued their terrific recent form by demolishing the struggling Reds with a 3-0 win. The game started badly, with Giroud putting Arsenal ahead after just 7 minutes. An exquisite passing move throughout the Arsenal midfield opened up the defence, giving Giroud time and space to fire a low shot past Reina. A scintillating end-to-end run by Gervinho left Liverpool aghast as he put the Gunners up 2-0. After half-time, Liverpool began to push forward, but the Gunners broke with Arshavin and Podolski, as they set up Giroud for his second of the game. After that, the Reds simply gave up, as all their energy and inspiration was gone.



Team meeting:
An urgent team meeting was called by manager Chris Blackett to address the slacking form and the decreasing morale. Blackett began by indicating the problem immediately; “We are struggling at the minute, but we need to ensure our heads don’t drop. Things haven’t been going our way, but we have the quality here to change our fortunes.”
“The boss is right,” Steven Gerrard said. “We’ve got to do better, and we have the ability to do it.”
“Good to know we’re on the same page here!” Carragher added.
“We need to buck up our ideas,” replied Suarez, “and we need to do it soon.”
“That’s exactly the sort of reaction I was after. I truly believe we can do this boys!”



Liverpool 1-0 Newcastle
Anfield seemed half the ground it used to be. There was no energy, no passion and no buzz of excitement. It was not the ground it was when Stuttgart turned up for one of Liverpool’s most important games in Europe, but now, in one of Liverpool’s most important games in the Premier League, there is no support for them. But without a win in five games, and three losses on the bounce, what is there to shout about? Liverpool need a big win here to salvage their season, or they will, undoubtedly, go on a disastrous winless streak that will effectively push them out of the race for European qualification. On a cold winter, it was always going to be a challenge for Liverpool, but they came out with a purpose and took the lead the 25[SUP]th[/SUP] minute. Suarez drifted outside and whipped a cross for Brazilian youngster Coutinho to volley home. Liverpool managed to hang on to their lead until the hour mark, when Coutinho was forced off with a slight injury. Newcastle continued to push forward, but couldn’t find a way past Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. With a great defensive effort, Liverpool kept the game at 1-0 to earn the three points. Unfortunately, Coutinho was ruled out for 3 weeks due to a twisted ankle.



Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United
Following the first win in five games, Liverpool were hoping to continue to rebuild themselves with a win against 3[SUP]rd[/SUP]-place Manchester United. Blackett went with the same line-up that won against Newcastle – minus the injured Coutinho. Early pressure from United yielded nothing but a corner and a free kick, but Reina was forced to make a couple of good saves to keep the game level. A foul by Evra on Sterling earned him his second yellow, putting United down a man, with a free kick within Gerrard range. Liverpool, despite controlling the game, just could not create any real chances even though they had the extra man. Liverpool moved into a more attacking 4-4-2 with Sturridge alongside Suarez, and immediately began to see United backing off, but they still could not score. The Reds were now dominated the Red Devils, but the visitors managed to hold strong until the 89[SUP]th[/SUP] minute. De Sciglio took it down the left wing, and crossed it into Gerrard. Despite getting only the slightest of touches, Gerrard managed to direct the ball for Sterling to volley home. After that, Liverpool settled down and controlled possession, keeping United far from a scoring chance.



Wigan 2-3 Liverpool
With a strong display against Manchester United – with a little help from Evra’s read card – Liverpool were confident of a victory against Wigan. Changes had to be made after the United game took a lot out of the players. Sturridge, Borini, Shelvey, Assaidi, Enrique and Skrtel all returned to the line-up to rest Blackett’s giant killers of the Man United game. A tough match against the Latics began with Shelvey taking an early knock, and forcing Gerrard on in his place. It all turned good, when Gerrard gave Liverpool the lead with a powerful blast from just outside the area hit the post on the way in, moments before the Liverpool staff found out Shelvey simply had a bruise. Beausejour levelled the game after Di Santo robbed the ball from Leiva. Al Habsi’s long punt to Kone was headed on to Di Santo, who netted a sublime strike from the edge of the area. After giving the team a mouthful at half time, Blackett watched as his side pressed more and more, looking for the tying goal. It finally came when substitute Stewart Downing received a pass from Sterling before taking one step and rifling one into the top corner. Downing then began the move for the winner, playing it to Borini to have a shot. Al Habsi managed to parry his initial attempt, but Luis Suarez – on for Sturridge – was there to knock home the winner. By taking the three points, Liverpool moved into 5[SUP]th[/SUP] place, five points behind Manchester City – with a game in hand.

Comment:
“I am very disappointed with this month, but we managed to pick up our form late on. This was always going to be a difficult month – lots of games in a short space of time can do a lot of damage. Injuries thinned the squad down, but with players returning, we will soon be back to 100%.”

Super Sevens:





Lucas Leiva – 7.68
Jamie Carragher – 7.50
Steven Gerrard – 7.44
 
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January, part 1

Liverpool begin month well
· Norwich, home, Premier League
· Crystal Palace, away, FA Cup 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] round
· Newcastle, away, Capital One Cup semi-final (1[SUP]st[/SUP] leg)
Part 2:
· West Ham, home, Premier League
· Reading, away, Premier League
· Tottenham, home, Premier League
· Newcastle, home, Capital One Cup semi-final (2[SUP]nd[/SUP] leg)
· Chelsea, home, Premier League
“This month is padded out by some cup games, which only increases the pressure. We now have four must-win games (against teams rivalling us for our position). But we need to make sure we take the three points in every single game, and not go in half-hearted expecting an easy win, because there are no easy wins – as we have found out too many times before. I don’t expect us to make too many moves this month, mainly because we need to fund our moves by selling players. I have a number of targets in mind, but it’s just about finding the funds.”



Liverpool 1-0 Norwich
Liverpool faced Norwich with half the squad either injured or suffering from fatigue. Sturridge, Borini, Shelvey, Skrtel and Kelly returned as Liverpool moved to a 4-4-2 to cover for the players out. After a slow start for the Reds, they began to push forward, finally grabbing a goal after 40 minutes. Downing played it out wide for Kelly to cross it back in. Sturridge found enough space to fire home a low shot. Martin Kelly and Jordan Henderson were forced off through injury. Henderson’s replacement Leiva was then forced off himself, replaced by Gerrard. Liverpool had the fend off a hungry Norwich, but Borini had a great chance to add a security goal, but Ruddy made a great save to keep Norwich in the game. Ruddy came up big again to deny a late one-on-one with Sturridge. Liverpool survived to record a well-earned 1-0 victory.



Crystal Palace 2-2 Liverpool
With rumours swirling of a huge signing for Liverpool – and two huge departures – Blackett entered the FA Cup tie willing his players to ignore the rumours and take the win. Liverpool went into the match with exactly the same line-up as the Norwich match, apart from Brad Jones and Sebastien Coates replaced Gulacsi and Assaidi on the subs’ bench. Crystal Palace came out fighting, and ended up taking the lead after half an hour. Great possession and build up play ended with Jedinak playing a superb ball to Murray, who slotted it right under a diving Reina. Sterling received a pass from Downing and played a perfect one-touch pass for Suarez to rifle top corner. A quick attack with 10 minutes remaining saw Raheem Sterling receive a long pass from De Sciglio, before sending in a cross that deflected in off goalkeeper Speroni’s hand and into the net. A quick counter attack 3 minutes later saw Palace earn a replay with the equalising goal.



Newcastle 0-3 Liverpool
Suarez, Gerrard, Enrique and Johnson returned to the line-up to spell Sterling, Borini, De Sciglio and Kelly. Sturridge was injured early on, meaning a reshuffle was necessary; Suarez went up front, Gerrard on the wing, Shelvey at AMC, and Leiva came on at MC. However, before Sturridge went off, he managed to complete a perfect move following Gerrard’s through ball, as the striker rolled the ball through the keeper’s legs. After half an hour, the Reds doubled their lead through Carragher’s header from Downing’s corner. Jonjo Shelvey made it a comfortable 3-0 with a brilliant half volley following Suarez’s cross. With no strikers on the bench following Sturridge’s injury, Blackett was forced to play without one following Luis Suarez’s dismissal. With the Reds in a defensive set-up, Newcastle began to push forward, searching for key goals that would put this tie back in question. However, Liverpool managed to hang on to ensure their three goal advantage was carried on into the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] leg.
 
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January sales

Liverpool announce huge deals

With Blackett announcing at the start of the month that transfers were unlikely without player sales, the fact Lucas Leiva and Daniel Agger left the club was greeted with a mixture of surprise and excitement. Clearly, Blackett had at least one target in mind. The fans couldn’t wait to see who it was.

Lucas Leiva joined Liverpool from Gremio in a £5 million deal in 2007-08. Leiva slowly built himself up to be a big part of the way the Reds played, eventually earning big starts against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, as well as Inter Milan in his first season. Leiva was sold for £20m to PSG, and hopes to further his career with his new team. “PSG are a superb team,” he said. “Of course, I’m sad about leaving Liverpool – they made me the player I am today – but I am happy to be presented with a new challenge, and new opportunities.”

Daniel Agger followed Leiva out of the door in a £12m deal with Juventus. After signing for £6m from Brondsby, Agger forged himself a fantastic career with the Reds after becoming the most expensive transfer out of Denmark for a Danish player.
“These transfers will help fund transfers for Liverpool, and I have a wealth of targets in mind. Hopefully this will spark Liverpool’s revival and help us achieve our goals this season.”

(Unfortunately, I miss-calculated the transfers and thgouth I would get a transfer budget of £32m with these sales. However, this is Liverpool on FM2013, and I only got £16m, meaning I oculdn’t sign the player I already had a deal for. This could mean these deals make us a worse club, but I will soldier on and hopefully get some success out of this. Silly me. By the way, you can abuse me as much as you want about this, as it will only amuse me;) )
 
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January, part 2

Liverpool finish steadily, keep track on top-4

· Norwich, home, Premier League
· Crystal Palace, away, FA Cup 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] round
· Newcastle, away, Capital One Cup semi-final (1[SUP]st[/SUP] leg)
Part 2:
· West Ham, home, Premier League
· Reading, away, Premier League
· Tottenham, home, Premier League
· Newcastle, home, Capital One Cup semi-final (2[SUP]nd[/SUP] leg)
· Stoke, away, FA Cup 4[SUP]th[/SUP] round
· Chelsea, home, Premier League

Liverpool 0-1 West Ham
With injuries beginning to bite, and with Suarez on suspension, Liverpool had to call up Yesil to play up front. They began defensively, and held the fort until a goal-mouth scramble saw Jarvis score after Reina made three consecutive saves. West Ham held their lead for the rest of the second half, despite Liverpool pushing harder and harder. West Ham secured a surprise victory, but one that Blackett wasn’t too concerned with. “I thought we were just unlucky today. We were down a few players, and recent sales had the team wondering what was going on. It’s a tough time, but hopefully we can pull through and get an advantage.”


Reading 1-1 Liverpool
Joe Allen finally made his return, while Coates replaced a fatigued Jamie Carragher. The hard-working Royals took Liverpool to the wire in a game that featured another depleted Reds team. A Reading corner was headed down, but the ball was headed wide. However, Enrique attempted to volley it clear, but miss-kicked it and it flew into the net. He game passed without any real excitement, until a harsh penalty was awarded to Liverpool. Captain Steven Gerrard stepped up with all of Liverpool’s hope on his shoulders. He confidently stepped up and smashed the ball low into the net.




Liverpool 3-1 Crystal Palace
Youth was given a chance by Chris Blackett for the replay against Palace, with Ryan McLaughlin, Jordan Lussey, Samed Yesil and Adam Morgan all given starts for the Reds. Raheem Sterling gave Liverpool an early lead to make it 3-2 on aggregate, as he netted a well-placed effort after a scintillating solo run from right back in his own half. Morgan steamed up with Coutinho and Sterling to present McLaughlin with a chance to cross. He did, and found Coutinho at the back post; the Brazilian headed home confidently. Henderson played a lobbed through ball to Coutinho to head onwards, and Yesil controlled and shot quickly to give Liverpool a commanding 3-0 lead. Palace managed to pull one back just before half-time as Phillips capitalised on some great possession play, placing it right into the corner, just out of the reach of Reina. A quiet 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] half went scoreless as Liverpool controlled the play and prevented the Championship side from taking any real chances. Liverpool were drawn against

Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham
A tough north-London derby against table-topping Tottenham was not made any easier by the absence of half of Liverpool’s usual first team. Luckily, Luis Suarez returned from his suspension to help Liverpool to a share of the points. In fact, the Uruguayan striker gave Liverpool the lead after just two minutes, as he capitalised on some superb one-touch passing from Gerrard, Henderson and Sturridge, before Suarez rifled his shot low. However, not long later, Bale managed to fight off Henderson and Carragher to win a high ball, control it, and then fire it low past Reina. Half-time came and went, and it wasn’t until just past the hour mark that Spurs managed to get the next break-through. Dembele played a perfect lobbed through ball to Toivonen, who rounded Reina and rolled the ball into the open goal. Suarez floated a cross into Downing, whose touch back to Sturridge was inch-perfect, and the English striker blasted it past the Spurs keeper.

Liverpool 1-0 Newcastle
An interesting stat from the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] leg was that Newcastle fielded an entirely foreign starting eleven. Despite taking more shots overall, Newcastle failed to capitalise, with only 5 of 13 on target. While Liverpool took 52% of the possession, it took them an hour to make a break through, with Gerrard scoring the only goal of the game. Coutinho’s free kick was initially saved by the Newcastle keeper, and then Yesil’s attempts were blocked, but Gerrard came in to bundle it over the line to give the Reds a 4-0 aggregate win.



Stoke 2-2 Liverpool
In a preview of the Capital One Cup final, Liverpool hoped to get a mental win over the Potters, as well as a league win. Liverpool were faced with the task of beating Asmir Begovic for the first time in 400 minutes. Despite a poor start, with Stoke dominating, Liverpool managed to get on the board first. Sterling’s cross to Suarez connected, but the shot was headed wide until it hit a falling Robert Huth and bounced in. Just three minutes later, Stoke equalised after great build up play. Despite two of Etherington’s crosses being cleared, Stoke kept up the pressure, and Jones beat Skrtel to the free ball and poked it past Reina. The first half ended very quietly, and the next goal didn’t come until the 50[SUP]th[/SUP] minute. Shawcross attempted to head the ball out of play, but the ball fell to Yesil, who rolled the ball past Begovic to destroy the keeper’s clean sheet record. With Liverpool looking at a lucky progression to the 5[SUP]th[/SUP] round, Stoke won a late corner. Adam’s first cross was blocked, but his second found Jones on the back post to seal a replay for the Potters.



Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Liverpool began this match just a point ahead of Chelsea in the standings – with a game in hand. The Reds came out with a more defensive approach, and were rewarded for their hard work by taking Chelsea to a 0-0 half time. However, a quick Chelsea counter attack had Liverpool stretched saw Hazard streak down the middle and rifle a shot home. However, Liverpool began to play within themselves a bit more, and got their own chance soon after. Despite Coutinho’s shot being parried by Cech, the rebound fell to Sturridge, who simply couldn’t miss. The Reds managed to hold on to an important point to hold Chelsea in 7[SUP]th[/SUP].

Comment:
“Of the 10 games we played, I think we managed a fairly respectable 4 wins, 5 draws and just 1 loss – although, we got just one win the Premier League. We managed to get important points in important games – namely the Spurs and Chelsea games. This has been a turbulent month for us, but hopefully our new signings can give us a boost for next month.”

Super Sevens:








Jose Enrique – 7.42
Joe Allen – 7.32
Martin Skrtel – 7.28
 
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Deadline day - January 2013

Liverpool announce big-money moves

With Leiva and Agger gone for a combined £32m, Blackett had some money to spend – although the majority of the £32m was put towards reducing club debts. However, Blackett reluctantly revealed he had around £16m to spend. Both Chelsea and Liverpool got down to business early on in the day, as Chelsea announced a £6m deal to take Jermaine Defoe to the Bridge. Anfield watched as AC Milan released young left-back, Didac Vila. The 23 year old joined the Anfield club after a £2.3m deal was struck between the once-rival clubs.





Then the big one was announced. Replacing Daniel Agger was never going to be easy, but Blackett managed to bring in his own replacement following weeks of arguing with the board. Blackett announced just two hours after the Vila deal that Doria had been signed from Botafogo. The 18 year old Brazilian is certainly one for the future, but Blackett hopes he will be able to get a good few games under his belt this season. As Liverpool’s scouts raved about his potential, Blackett made the move to sign him for £10m. However, the transfer was accepted on January 15[SUP]th[/SUP], but with work permit problems the deal was not done until the deadline. Doria’s deal quickly became the most expensive on the day, easily eclipsing Celtic’s £6.5m deal for Chris Solly. Meanwhile, winger Oussama Assaidi joined West Brom in a £3.5m transfer.





Liverpool also announced Niek Vossebelt and David Ospina would be joining in the summer, at the end of their respective contracts. Vossebelt is a young Dutch defensive midfielder, who Blackett sees as a future role player – a player who can do the dirty work and protect his stars. However, he also sees Vossebelt as a limited player, as a guy who will only be used to spell his top players. Ospina, on the other hand, is a top-quality prospect. The 24 year-old Columbian goalkeeper is a player that Blackett sees as a future key component. As a potential Reina replacement, Ospina is a magnificent coup for absolutely nothing.

Other big-money moves in January included:
Davide Astori – Cagliari to Manchester City, £19.75m
Micah Richards – Manchester City to Chelsea, £6.25m
Shane Long – West Brom to Arsenal, £12m
 
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February

Liverpool fall to hard-working Potters

· Sunderland, away, Premier League
· Stoke, home, FA Cup 4[SUP]th[/SUP] round (replay)
· Athletic Bilbao, home, Europa League 1knockout round (1[SUP]st[/SUP] leg)
· Aston Villa, away, Premier League
· Tranmere, away, FA Cup 5[SUP]th[/SUP] round
· Athletic Bilbao, away, Europa League 1knockout round (2[SUP]nd[/SUP] leg)
· Stoke, Wembley, Capital One Cup final
· Manchester City, home, Premier League

“This month has the potential to be very difficult for us, but if we can play how we know we can then we will come through just fine. Two key games in the Europa League will be difficult, but we just need a good result at home in the first leg to guide us through the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP]. We are knocking right on the door of the Champions League qualification, so we need to make sure we beat Man City – and comfortably too. And of course, the Cup final will be huge. We struggled to tie with Stoke at their ground in the FA Cup, and we need to make sure we beat them in the replay to give us ground mentally for the Cup final.”

Liverpool 4-1 Sunderland
Both Didac Vila and Doria were granted starts against Sunderland, as Martin Kelly returned to replace both Johnson and De Sciglio. Downing gave Liverpool the lead after 20 minutes of end-to-end struggling for both teams, as Allen won a midfield tussle to allow Coutinho to play a perfect through-ball for the English winger to cut in and fire. An obscene number of one-on-one chances were put by the post by Liverpool’s marksmen – namely Sturridge, who rolled a great chance past Mignolet’s far post. Sunderland managed to pull the game back level moments before half time as N’Diaye smashed home a superb shot that took a slight deflection off Doria’s attempted block. Sturridge managed to redeem himself following his misses as he rifled a low shot in after Joe Allen played him behind the defence with a wonder-pass. Suarez made it 3-1 as he successfully brought down a high ball from substitute Raheem Sterling, before placing a half-volley into the far corner. Vila’s superb debut was brought to an abrupt halt as he was forced off through injury. A foul on Suarez by N’Diaye gave Liverpool the chance for a fourth from the penalty spot. Surprisingly, it was veteran Jamie Carragher who stepped up to smash it home. Liverpool confidently shut down the game and took the three points with a score of 4-1. “I was very pleased with Doria and Didac in their debuts tonight. While Doria seemed to struggle with the pace late on, I was impressed how he integrated into our system. Didac could have played on but for an injury, but i hope he’s back soon because that was a superb start.”



Liverpool 0-0 Stoke, 4-2 on penalties
New boys Doria and Vila were ruled out of the tie due to being cup-tied and injured; Coates and Enrique replaced them. A highly uneventful first half ended with the teams still locked at 0-0. Liverpool continued slogging it out against the tough Potters, but couldn’t find a winner in the second half. The game was forced into extra time; could penalties be the deciding factor? It did in fact go to penalties, with Liverpool shooting second. Wilson gave Stoke the lead, but Gerrard rifled one top corner to equalise. Reina saved Owen’s shot with a superb dive to the corner, and Sturridge made it 2-1. A save on Walters preceded a Suarez goal to give the Reds a commanding 3-1 advantage. Whitbread gave Stoke hope, but Coutinho put Liverpool into the 5[SUP]th[/SUP] round with a simple goal.



Liverpool 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
With injuries biting, Liverpool were stretched to the limit as players became fatigued and Shelvey, Sterling and Doria had to return to spell the others. Bilbao, however, seemed highly cautious in their 5-at-the-back formation. Liverpool smelled blood. Liverpool came out looking for an early goal, but the 5-man defence of Bilbao held up strong to take the underdogs into half time level. As Liverpool pushed forward for the first goal, they left a hole at the back, which Bilbao took advantage of. Aduriz played a well-timed pass to Herrara, who just managed to find the open space before slotting it home. Despite trying their hardest, Bilbao were impossible to break down, and took the 0-1 lead into the second leg; Liverpool had it all to do.

Aston Villa 2-3 Liverpool
Liverpool looked to condemn Villa to the drop zone, while overtaking Chelsea for 5[SUP]th[/SUP] place – despite still being two games behind. Despite being forced to field Samed Yesil, along with the only-just-back-from-injury De Sciglio, Liverpool took an early lead ater just 15 minutes as they hoped to put the Bilboa loss behind them. Yesil played a perfect one-touch pass from Allen’s long ball was placed perfectly, allowing Coutinho to blast a half-volley into the far corner. The lead held up until the final minute of the first half, when a Villa break through yielded a Darren Bent equaliser. An early second half penalty given away on a foul by Baker allowed Daniel Sturridge to fire his Reds into the lead again. Clark’s foul on Gerrard yielded the Reds a second penalty, and it was Gerrard to make it 3-1. However, Villa made it a game again with a superb counter attack that began with a Benteke steal, and ended with a Bent header from Lowton’s cross. Nathan Baker’s red card on 80 minutes all but sealed Liverpool’s win, but the Mersey team still had to get men behind the ball to prevent the equaliser going in. Desperate defending turned out to be the saviour for Lvierpool as Villa pressed for their third, but two consecutive clearances off the line won the Reds the three points.

Tranmere 0-1 Liverpool
Suarez, Skrtel and Shelvey returned to the line-up while Suso made his first professional start for the Reds. A mild spring evening witnessed a hard-working Tranmere side take Liverpool into a 0-0 break. With youngsters playing on the Reds side, the Rovers obviously thought they could win it – and they nearly did. Substitute Samed Yesil came on at the break, and put Liverpool in front on 51 minutes. Jordan Henderson whipped a lightning-fast cross into the six-yard box, and it evaded everyone until Yesil got a boot on it to turn it past a flailing Williams in the Tranmere goal. Despite the poor performance, the Premier League side managed to hold onto the one goal lead until the game was over, to put them into the 6[SUP]th[/SUP] round to face either Brighton or Fulham (replay on March 6[SUP]th[/SUP]).



Athletic Bilbao 0-2 Liverpool
In the early going, it was predominantly Liverpool playing the good football, but in the flashes of possession that Bilbao got, they looked dangerous. A battle of attrition in the first half saw the sides go into the break goalless, but it was not a bore draw. The break through finally came for Liverpool in the form of Daniel Sturridge. Allen’s free kick was perfectly placed for Sturridge to chest down and immediately volley into the roof of the net from close range. Luis Suarez finally ended his near 10-hour goal drought as he played a long-distance one-two with Sturridge, beating defender Aurtenetxe to the loose ball on the cross. Liverpool set up a 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] round encounter with RSC Anderlecht with the 2-1 aggregate win.



CAPITAL ONE CUP FINAL – Wembley, 24[SUP]th[/SUP] February 2013
Liverpool 0-1 Stoke City
The day dawned bright and early, with a pleasant chill on the wintery air. The whole of Liverpool FC was awake early, raring to go. Despite struggling to beat the Potters in the FA Cup, Liverpool were confident that the penalty win was a huge mental victory over their rivals. The chance to go double-Cup winners was almost irresistible, but the Reds still had a lot to do to keep the trophy at Anfield.
Chris Blackett left the side that beat Bilbao nearly intact, replacing only Doria and Coates with Carragher and Skrtel. Yesil did enough in the last match to earn a place in the starting 11; while Sterling’s scintillating form of late ensured he held his place. Both Suarez and Sturridge were left on the bench as Downing took the left wing back.
Liverpool had plenty of chances on Asmir Begovic’s goal, as the goalkeeper struggled with the sun in his eyes. Liverpool wasted a great chance from a freeckick early on, and struggled to create any real chances after that. Youngster Coutinho was forced off on the hour mark through injury, with Steven Gerrard coming on to replace him. Sturridge came on to replace Joe Allen, turning Liverpool’s formation into a 4-4-2, with Gerrard dropping further back. As the game reached the final 20 minutes, Yesil was replaced by in-form Luis Suarez, and Liverpool began to turn up the heat on Stoke. With just two minutes remaining, former Liverpool player Charlie Adam stepped up and rifled a wicked shot top corner to all but give Stoke the trophy. The Potters managed to hang on to grab themselves a surprising win and a superb trophy – plus European qualification. “I think we were just unlucky. We played very well today, but we just struggled to score goals, and stamina became an issue. But still, I congratulate David Moyes and the whole of the Stoke set-up, they were fantastic today, and thoroughly deserve their win.”



Liverpool 4-1 Manchester City
Liverpool have the chance to catch up to one point behind Manchester City, with a game in hand, so long as they can win today. As always nowadays, fitness is an issue for Liverpool with their congested schedule, and the Citizens will look to their superior squad depth to win them the game. Blackett replaced Doria, Shelvey, Suarez and Sturridge in the starting XI as fatigue began to bite. Liverpool came out like a rocket, dominating from the start, and were rewarded for their efforts very soon, with a goal within 10 minutes. A move down Liverpool’s right wing saw Suarez whip a cross in for Sturridge, however as Yesil was going towards the front post, he was pushed and the ball miraculously ended up bouncing in off his shoulder. They added a second through Sturridge, as he was the main beneficiary of a superb pass from Stuart Downing on a move created by young Samed Yesil. The third came when Downing teed Sturridge up for a blast that was parried by Hart, the rebound, however, was controlled and rolled in by Yesil for his second of the game. Liverpool put the game almost beyond doubt by adding a fourth before half time. Downing’s corner fell towards the near-post, where it found the big-man Doria to power it home. Aguero found time and space of the edge of Liverpool’s area, and he placed a beautiful shot round Reina to give the Citizens a feint glimmer of hope, but with hardly half an hour left, it was very feint.

Comment:
“This was a spectacular month for us, I thought. We managed to go unbeaten in the Premier League for the first time this season, and we lost just twice all month. However, it would have been nice to have won the Cup, but we showed the loss would not affect our season as we crushed City.”

Super Sevens:




Awards:
Doria - 2nd in Young Player of the Month
Coutinho - 3rd in Goal of the Month
Blackett - 2nd in Manager of the Month

Samed Yesil – 7.50
Martin Skrtel – 7.50
Jordan Henderson – 7.48
 
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March

Liverpool remain in Europe despite losing out in the FA Cup

· Stoke, away, Premier League
· Anderlecht, home, Europa League 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] knockout round (1[SUP]st[/SUP] leg)
· Brighton, away, FA Cup 6[SUP]th[/SUP] round
· Anderlecht, away, Europa League 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] knockout round (2[SUP]nd[/SUP] leg)
· Southampton, away, Premier League
· QPR, home, Premier League

“This season is beginning to wind down now, but we still have a number of important games – especially this month. If we want to qualify for Europe through the Permier League, then we need to win every game and keep the pressure on our opponents. I still believe we are in with a chance of qualifying for the Champions League, but others believe our squad isn’t ready and isn’t deep enough; it’s up to us to prove them wrong and beat Man City to that 4[SUP]th[/SUP] place.”

Stoke 2-0 Liverpool
Liverpool hoped to get one over their cup rivals of both the FA Cup 4[SUP]th[/SUP] round and the Capital One Cup final. After two draws and a loss to the Potters (plus a win on penalties), Liverpool wanted to set the record straight with a comfortable win. Liverpool entered the tie with just three outfield subs on the bench, changing Enrique, Skrtel, Shelvey and Downing from the game against Man City. The depleted Reds side soon found themselves a goal behind, as Kightly latched onto Tierney’s cross and put a bullet header past Reina. Kightly’s second half cross from the by-line found a diving Shawcross, who just managed to flick it on enough to get it past Reina. Despite a late push, Stoke impeccable defending and a late injury to Martin Kelly condemned Liverpool to a 2-0 loss. The loss drew Liverpool level on games played with Man City, meaning they remain one point behind.



Liverpool 2-0 Anderlecht
Gerrard, Sterling and Coates returned to the starting XI as the Reds returned to their 4-5-1 formation again. Liverpool came out of the gates with something to prove, and took advantage of a slightly awe-struck Anderlecht side. Carragher and Sterling worked it nicely up the right wing, before the young winger played a perfectly-weighted pass for Gerrard to smash first time. Sterling’s solo run from the half way line saw him beat three Anderlecht players before dropping a short pass off to Suarez, who netted a well-placed shot in the tip right corner. Such was the injury trouble for Liverpool that Gerrard was forced to go to right-back to cover for the young De Sciglio that was struggling with a slight knock. However, Liverpool defended well to limit Anderlecht to weak attacks with no real conviction.



Brighton 1-0 Liverpool
The FA Cup tie – however late it may be in the competition – gave Blackett a chance to rest his stars, and give his youth a chance to play. Pre-match, Liverpool found out the semi-final could be against Manchester City, with the other between Middlesbrough and Tottenham/Cardiff. The much-changed starting XI included Gulacsi, McLaughlin, Ibe and Suso. Brighton took the lead after a failed clearance was headed down by Hammond, and Bridcutt stepped up to rifle it top corner from almost 25 yards. Liverpool began to push further and further forward in the second half, eventually Gerrard and Sturridge made an appearance to further turn up the heat on Brighton, but the plucky Championship side held strong and eventually put the Reds out of the competition. “I think we were unlucky tonight. We played well and created some chances, but in the end it was a wonder goal that won the game, and you can’t do much about that really. I was very happy with the young guys’ performances, and they will look to further progress and push for a first team place in the future.”



Anderlecht 2-2 Liverpool (2-4 on aggregate)
Liverpool’s 2-0 aggregate lead put them in good stead on what would be a tough away game for the Reds. The youngsters all returned to the under 18s and reserve teams respectively; Carragher, De Sciglio, Allen, Downing, Sterling and Sturridge all returned to the side. The game began rather cautiously, with both teams unwilling to leave themselves vulnerable – which, of course, suited Liverpool and their two goal advantage. A quick cross into the Liverpool area resulted in a confused mess of Gulacsi, Enrique, De Sciglio and Milanov, and eventually the ball hit De Sciglio’s head and bounced into the open net. A quick counter attack (65 minutes) saw Anderlecht’s Suarez sprint down the left wing with it, and cross it in for Gillet to volley home at the back post. Liverpool continued to push, but Anderlecht held strong and forced the tie to extra time. The Reds were aggressive, and Doria nearly won it from a corner, but he put it inches wide. A quick counter attack from Liverpool saw Sterling play a lobbed pass to Sturridge. The header back allowed Gerrard to slot Enrique through, and the Spaniard was cool, calm and collected as he rolled the ball home. Anderlecht needed two goals to win the tie. Liverpool levelled the game with a second extra-time goal, as Sterling’s cross found Gerrard, who sent a bullet header through the keeper’s flailing arms.



Southampton 1-3 Liverpool
With Manchester City dropping two points against Sunderland, the Southampton game became much more important for the Reds. Blackett replaced Reina in the starting XI to help ensure an important three points were taken. Liverpool’s first came after 20 minutes, as Enrique linked with Shelvey to send Coutinho through on goal; Coutinho calmly tucked the ball under Boruc. With just over 10 minutes left in the half, Liverpool turned their possession into a two-goal lead as Downing’s cross was headed home by Suarez at the back post. Despite Rodriguez converting Mackie’s cross to cut the deficit, the Saints fell to two goals down again when Skrtel powered Coutinho’s free-kick home. Southampton were not to be turned away though, as do Prado headed their second in, but the assistant judged it to be offside; Liverpool’s advantage remained at two.



Liverpool 1-0 QPR
Liverpool were pleased to find out they had avoided OM and PSG in the Europa League, as they were drawn against Metalist. The semi-final however, could see them face either PSG or Stuttgart. However, Blackett was only focused on the forthcoming QPR match, looking to ensure Liverpool kept the pressure on the top 4. Sterling and Gerrard returned, while Martin Kelly replaced a slightly injured De Sciglio. A scoreless first half was not one the fans wanted to watch; it was slow, lethargic and very stop-start. Kelly was taken off injured after half an hour and Seb Coates replaced Carragher (who moved to right-back). QPR held the former Champions to 0-0 until Downing finished a wonderful passing move throughout the team. Despite being down 1-0, QPR were forced to finished the game in a more defensive style, as the Reds pushed for a second.

Comment:
“We got away with a few this month, but we’re still up there; we’re level on points with Man City, and still have a game in hand. Going 3 in 6 just isn’t good enough for a top-4 side, and we need to improve if we want to get there this season. The Europa League draw was kind to us for the quarter final, but the semi fianl will be difficult to win; we need to get our Premier League points early before our schedule gets tougher.”

Super Sevens:





Martin Skrtel – 7.76
Raheem Sterling – 7.54
Sebastien Coates – 7.52
 
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Premier League table

Liverpool enter crunch time






With just eight games remaining - seven for some of Liverpool's rivals - the Reds enter a time in which losing just isn't an option. The Reds remain in 6th place, just behind Manchester City, and just behind their minimum expectations.
"We're hoping - and expecting - to qualify for Europe through the Premier League, and right now we're in the perfect position to do just that."
They may be in 6th, but Blackett is right; his team is just two points behind 4th-placed Chelsea, and level on points with City. The best bit? They have a game in hand on both of them.
Marcelo Bielsa, the Chelsea boss, said this; "I think we've missed a few chances to put this battle to bed, and now Liverpool are in a prime position to take advantage of that and get in ahead of us. It's about missed opportunities, and Liverpool have just taken the points in the right games - that being against their rivals."
Roberto Mancini agreed with him; "Liverpool have just come out of the blue and put us to the sword, and now we are going to pay for it. We haven't been good enough this season, but Liverpool have just been more passionate about it and took the points away from us in what will turn out to be a key match-up. They're right up there now, and if they don't get into the Champions League, I'll be very surprised."
 
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