Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool – The Shankly Way

Benteke celebrates with Adam Lallana

Benteke celebrates with Adam Lallana

Christian Benteke’s second half goal proved to be enough for Liverpool to end 2015 with a victory at the Stadium of Light, and plunged Sunderland deeper into trouble.

Liverpool began this game on the back of a 1-0 victory at home to Leicester at the weekend, and Jurgen Klopp had named an unchanged side, however Divock Origi began his time on the sidelines, following a sustained injury in the home victory over the Foxes’ on Saturday. Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce made a host of changes, as John O’Shea, Jordi Gomez, Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher were left out of the side, with Jermain Defoe returning to the Black Cats’ front line.

In a timid affair, Liverpool had dominated possession in the early stages, but it was Sunderland that started the brightest.

Liverpool’s backline was  nervous, and Sunderland almost had an opening when Jermain Defoe skipped inside the area, but failed to get a shot out in front of a packed Reds’ defence.

However, Liverpool did have chances of their own early on, as a blunder from ex-Red Sebastian Coates fell to Philipe Coutinho, who then set up fellow Brazilian Roberto Firmino, who skewed the ball out of play with his knee.

The Reds’ continued to press high up the pitch and adopt the philosophy known as gegenpressing, but it was the hosts who created the better clear-cut chances.

Jermain Defoe, starting as Sunderland’s striker, created the best opportunity of the evening, forcing Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet into a fantastic save. Defoe received a pass, swivelled and from a long way out drove a shot into the top corner which Mignolet had to palm over.

Moments later, the visitors were awash with celebration as Philipe Coutinho’s free kick brushed the roof of the net. To their disbelief, however the scores remained deadlocked. Roberto Firmino later in the half hit the crossbar from 25 yards, having got a touch from Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone.

Sam Allardyce was then forced into something they did not want to do: a substitution before the interval. Jack Rodwell obtained an injury in the 30th minute, making way for young Duncan Watmore.

Firmino, then showed his first aerial threat to Sunderland’s back line, glancing a powerful header which Vito Mannone parried away from eight yards.

Straight away after the interval began, Liverpool took the lead as Christian Benteke latched onto a flick from Adam Lallana and slotted the ball past Mannone, barely a minute after half time was over.

Benteke dispatches the ball into the back of the net (via The Mirror)

Sunderland responded well, however as Fabio Borini skipped past two or three defenders, but his shot was straight at Belgian keeper Mignolet.

The injury list then compounded for Sam Allardyce, who also lost Sebastian Coates, a second player from the game and was replaced by Deandre Yedlin, causing rotations at the back for the Black Cats.

To Sunderland’s credit, however they persevered and could have even equalised late on as Ducan Watmore pounced on a indifferent clearance from Roberto Firmino, but his effort was blocked.

Jurgen Klopp was raging on the touchline as a mistimed and awful tackle from Sunderland Dutch midfielder Jermain Lens on Mamadou Sakho left the Frenchman requiring treatment. Lens received a yellow, but Klopp believed he deserved a red card. Sakho played on, but the German boss was still incensed, and rightly so.

If Liverpool craved the second, they had two glorious opportunities at the end to snatch the victory: first Jordon Ibe who came on as a substitute blazed over from 8 yards, whilst Christian Benteke, one on one had his shot saved by Vito Mannone.

Sunderland, however failed to capitalise and Liverpool gratefully snatched the three points.

Liverpool will have the opportunity to continue their two-match winning run away at West Ham on Saturday (lunchtime), whilst Sunderland face another home fixture against fellow strugglers Aston Villa on the same day.

 

Doubters to Believers: Who stays and who goes?

Jürgen Klopp has made his presence felt in the the short time we’ve been blessed with his hand on the tiller. October eighth was a watershed moment for many fans of Liverpool. It seemed to signal the lifting of a cloud above L4. Much as I have been upset by the recent transformation of Liverpool into a club that sacks its managers I truly think Klopp is in it for the long haul.

 

What have we learned so far about our manager?

 

1 – Stay in the stadium until the end

2 – Bring a bleep machine to interviews and press conferences

3 – Don’t be a wimp if you’re a bit injured

4 – Don’t doubt, believe

5 – If you are a player at LFC then expect a fair shot

 

Point 5 is my favourite. Here is a manager who values the effect and importance of confidence and self-worth on his players, and his fans. He is changing a negative mindset into one of true optimism. We’ve had a mixed bag of results but the fans on social media are still ebullient! This is supporting our team: belief, pure and unadulterated. We are shrugging off bad results and getting behind the team. Similarly the players seem together and upbeat whenever questioned or photographed in training. Appearances can deceive but not with these lads.

 

Klopp is giving each and every player a chance to prove they should be part of the future of our club; he is giving the fans a chance to remember what it is like to support their players, to be together in the fight; he is giving the press no clichés and saying what he wants, however he wants to say it; he is bringing Liverpool back to Liverpool, from Germany! Optimism is our watchword and long may it continue.

 

The most profound effect of the renewed fan and manager belief is on the players. Dejan Lovren is a new man now seemingly worth his price tag. He’s looking great alongside Mamadou Sakho (already a Kop favourite). Emre Can is blossoming. Divok Origi is looking sharper. Roberto Firmino is still a little hot and cold, but proved a matchwinner against Leicester. Christan Benteke scored! Daniel Sturridge has asked to play (true story). Simon Mignolet is keeping clean sheets. Phillipe Coutinho has been quiet admittedly but he’s still our magician. Alberto Moreno has been marauding. It’s all slowly coming together. Youngsters are getting their legs stretched and some flashes of genuine quality are evident. Slowly, slowly, slowly. It is happening.

 

I personally don’t see anyone leaving this January and am not convinced anyone will come in either. It really seems as though the tools he has been given will do and, once they’ve had a fair go, the axe will fall. No one can complain they’ve but had a chance.
One last thing: Jose Enrique hasn’t got a game under Klopp yet…his social media presence is now zero: he will be Enrique 2.0 Klopp Edition. Watch out Moreno. Watch out Europa (but that’s another article).

Sunderland -V- Liverpool Preview

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Liverpool are up against Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland, who are currently in the bottom three. Jürgen Klopp and co will be be looking to get back to back wins after an excellent performance and result against Leicester City.

Liverpool beat Leicester 1-0 on Boxing Day, Christian Benteke with the only goal. Liverpool are currently tenth in the league and a win against Sunderland on Wednesday night will move them up-to sixth and joint on points (30) with Manchester United.

Regarding Sunderland, they lost 4-1 against Manchester City on Saturday and are sitting nineteenth on twelve points.

Match facts: Liverpool are unbeaten in six Premier League matches against Sunderland (W4, D2.)

Sunderland have won just three of their 28 Premier League games against Liverpool.

Sunderland have lost six of the last eight league games (W2).

Liverpool have conceded only 10 goals in the last 22 league meetings with Sunderland.

Team news: Divock Origi is unlikely to feature due to a hamstring injury. James Milner is still out, but Jordon Ibe has recovered from illness. Daniel Sturridge is fit, but Jürgen Klopp has said that he won’t play Sturridge until he is sure that the striker is fit – Christian Benteke is set to start.

Sunderland defender John O’Shea is set to miss the game with a calf injury – Wes Brown is set to replace him. Kaboul remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.

I was very impressed with Liverpool against Leicester. Liverpool allowed them no space to work with, and pressed well as a team. The winning goal scored by Benteke will do the Belgium international the world of good, it will be a real confidence booster, although he should’ve scored another two. I’m expecting another good performance from the Reds, and I think they’ll be sharp and dominant throughout the game. I’m predicting an away win, with Benteke to be on the scoresheet again. It’s a must win game for Liverpool, they need all three points.

With Arsenal, Spurs and Stoke all picking up three points on Monday, the pressure is on for a top four finish. Crystal Palace and Manchester United also picked up a point each.

Form guide:
Liverpool’s last five PL games: WWLDLW
Sunderland’s last five PL games: WWLLLL

Last corresponding fixture:
Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool (Lazar Markovic).

My prediction: Sunderland 1-3 Liverpool.

My predicted lineup: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Emre Can, Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino, Benteke.

Oh Captain, Our Captain

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Some people were born to be great,
But others are destined by fate,
Legends for me, don’t come much better,
Than Steven Gerrard our midfield pace setter,
From Whiston in liverpool born a red,
Jumpers for goalposts as often is said,
Gerrard honed his craft against a red brick wall,
A powerful midfielder with an eye for a ball,

Young man was destined, a matter of time,
Big clubs come calling to sign on the line,
Gerrard never doubted it all would be cool,
His heart it was set on his beloved liverpool,
Barnes was his hero, took him under his wing,
No doubting the benefits his experience did bring,
A powerhouse midfielder making heads turn,
In no time at all his debut at Blackburn.

The kop knew it early, he’s one of their own,
In his earliest days just a bit injury prone,
Well on the road now he began to excite,
His debut goal at Sheffield a memorable sight,
One wonders if Barthez even saw what flew past,
As Stevie G’s rocket passed by him so fast,
Everton knew quickly what this lads all about,
A nice tidy finish and stick his tongue out,
So many goals, 185 was his numbers,
Some of them tap ins most of them hummers,

In the champions league at Marseille, a lob so sublime,
Still stands out in memory as a fave of all time,
Rockets from distance became tricks of his trade,
They set him apart, how legends are made,
Goals against Villa and Newcastle from distance,
The oppisition keeper left rooted with no chance,
I could keep on going the memories don’t stop,
We all have our favourites in front of the kop,
Sami Hyypia a legend knew the time it was right,
When the captains armband came into his sight,

The Gerrard cup final will live long in the heart,
For his captains performance straight from the start,
The cup in his hands, the headlines he’s making,
While West Ham hearts were surely breaking,
He made the people happy is a favourite of Shankly,
His last minute goal sent the kop wild quite frankly,

Olympiakos in Europe how I remember that day,
Will any of us forget the reaction of Andy Gray,
We jumped around wildly, that day was such fun,
With Andy Gray shouting to “take a bow son”,

All were electric but none will compare,
To one night in Istanbul for those who were there,
A 3 nil thumping at the hands of Milan,
A colossus was needed, step forward the man,
Gerrard is a legend for what happened that night,
Him holding “old big ears” was a most welcome sight,
All kopites remember what happened that day,
That evenings celebration a big blur I’d say,

To end how it did breaks all of our hearts,
With Sturridge and Suarez tearing defences apart,
The slip was an error they shouldn’t lay blame,
At the feet of the skipper and the loss of the game,
We came so close lads the heart still does break,
But that season won’t be remembered for that one small mistake,
Our football was amazing, a joy to behold,
An unforgettable season if all truth be told,
Stevie G’s send off it still makes me choke,
Defeat after defeat and trounced up at Stoke,
Legends should never go out in that style,
Gerrard won’t look back at that one and smile,

He said his goodbyes, there was neer a dry eye and off to L.A he promptly did fly,
Wherever you roam, Anfields your home,  For Steven Gerrards our captain, You’ll never walk alone. ….

THANKS YOU STEVIE G..
WE WILL NEVER FORGET

Written by Stuart Lane

Time Up?

With the January transfer window fast approaching; many fans will be dreaming of certain transfers. I am definitely guilty of this and this January I have a lot of business I would like to see be done. Not only are their players I want to see come in but also those who I believe have come to the end of their Liverpool days.

In my opinion time is up for Joe Allen, Jose Enrique, Mario Balotelli and Luis Alberto. Allen has had his good games for Liverpool here and there but as a whole has not been worth the investment. He arrived as a hot prospect alongside Brendan Rodgers; yet it seems Rodgers was his biggest fan. He is in competition with Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Lucas Levia and Emre Can and in my eyes can not find a way into the first team.

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Jose Enrique was well worth his pay for a couple of seasons; but his prime has come and gone. With Alberti Moreno, Jon Flanagan and Jpe Gomez, on top of the youngsters coming through the academy; his first team time is definitely up and to keep him at Anfield would just be a needless expense.

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Mario Balotelli, the name says it all. He brought with him such hope and excitement. For some fans he even brought dreams of a title challenge or a cup triumph. However, he scored a mere one goal in the 14/15 season and thus is less lethal in front of goal then Leighton Baines.

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Lastly Luis Alberto. Having never scored for Liverpool and having spent most of his time on loan; it begs the question, “why is he in the squad?”. With players such as Henderson, Milner, Can, Lucas and of course all the players in the academy; where does Alberto fit in. It’s simple: he doesn’t.

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All four of these players were brought in as hot prospects but only Enrique showed his worth. With all four occupying spots in the squad and contributing very little to nothing towards the team it begs the question: “what for?”

In my opinion all four of these players need to leave Liverpool as soon as possible in order to make way for hot prospects.

Liverpool 1-0 Leicester City – The Shankly Way

Benteke scored the only goal for Liverpool

Benteke (far right) scored the only goal for Liverpool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool arrested their recent damaging league decline with a deserved victory over Premier League leaders Leicester City at Anfield.

The Reds came into this came on the back of an insipid display at Watford, in which they were routed by the newly-promoted side, and were also without a league victory in almost a month.

Prior to this game, many Liverpool fans had agreed that their boss Jürgen Klopp needed a welcome Christmas tonic, and there was extra emphasis on the importance on this game as they faced an in-form Leicester City who lied top of the Barclays Premier League table. Klopp had a peach of an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, and boy did they do that from the off.

The German boss had made two changes to the side that travelled to Vicarage Road last Sunday: Lucas Leiva failed to consolidate his place in the squad, and Dejan Lovren was included in the starting line-up, as Martin Skrtel remained on the sidelines after a hamstring injury that was retained in the previous fixture. An alteration in formation was also made, as the 4-4-3 formation reverted to 4-4-2, as Liverpool sought for more of an attacking stature, with Divock Origi playing as an isolated forward up top.

The changes in personnel seemed to have given Liverpool an influx of confidence from the off, as Phillipe Coutinho curled an acute effort just wide of the post. For Leicester meanwhile, they seemed to keeping intact as a defensive unit and created a half chance as in-form Riyad Mahrez skipped past Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno, only to have his cross cleared by French defender Mamadou Sakho at the byline.

However, there was in truth little pizazz on show from the Premier League leaders in comparison to their last away game at Goodison Park, as Liverpool took assured control throughout the first half. The Merseysiders’ were creating good openings and at times came close to bursting the visitors’ bubble.

Roberto Firmino, who was criticised heavily by Reds’ fans after his performance against Watford, had seemed to have answered the haters as his general work rate did stand out in the Liverpool side. He threaded a ball through to Belgian striker Divock Origi, but only to see his attempt on goal blocked by Leicester defender Wes Morgan.

Origi again was posing threats to the visitors’ defence, as he linked up with Coutinho to almost set up a brilliant goal for the Brazilian, but Coutinho’s effort ghosted just over the goal.

The Reds’ were not just finished there, and Kaspwer Schmeichel was called into action twice successively, denying Emre Can’s low effort, and stifled a potential opening for Divock Origi.

Leicester, however almost punished Liverpool’s profligacy as Jamie Vardy, of all people glanced a header into the Kop end, after a cross from Marc Albrighton.

Liverpool then suffered another injury blow as Jürgen Klopp was forced into substituting Divock Origi, who seemed to have obtained a hamstring injury, for fellow Belgian striker Christian Benteke.

Just before the interval, Leicester carved out their best chance of the evening as Kante worked the ball to Riyad Mahrez, who fired a shot just under the bar which Simon Mignolet had to tip over.

The second half proved to be enthralling, as Leicester ultimately began it the brighter with a more measured and assured performance. There was havoc in the Liverpool back-line, as Mamadou Sakho had to make a clearance out of desperation, after a poor pass which caused panic for the Liverpool goalkeeper.

However, Liverpool eventually found their feet in the match as Christian Benteke squandered a great opportunity to head home from Jordan Henderson’s delivery, but instead sent it flying a long way over the bar.

Five minutes later, he did eventually find the desired target.

Roberto Firmino cut back a ball for Benteke, who slid the ball into the back of the net to give Liverpool the lead. The goal seemed to give Ranieri a willingness to alter his team to get a result, and threw Nathan Dyer and Leonardo Ulloa on, for Shinji Okazki and Jamie Vardy.

Christian-Benteke

The plan seemed to go accordingly as Leicester continued to exert pressure going forward as Nathan Dyer almost diverted a Christian Fuchs cross past Mignolet, but the Belgian goalkeeper made a sharp save at his near post.

Despite Leicester’s continued pressure, Liverpool could have wrapped the game up in the closing stages as Coutinho’s dipping effort that skimmed the woodwork. The biggest miss of the evening, however was the goalscorer Benteke who somehow failed to convert home in front of a glaring goal.

However, Liverpool went on to record a victory for the first time since 29 November.

Liverpool will face Sunderland away from home on Wednesday, whilst Leicester will be up against Manchester City at home on Tuesday night. 

 

Liverpool -V- Leicester City Preview

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Liverpool are up against league leaders Leicester City in the next round of games in the Premier League. Liverpool are currently sitting ninth in the league and Jürgen Klopp’s side are aiming to return to winning ways after a run of four matches without victory. The Reds will be looking to bounce back after last weekends 3-0 defeat to Watford.

Leicester come into Boxing Day unbeaten in ten league games and their 3-2 win at Everton made it three victories on the spin.

Leicester have scored three goals in each of their last four away games in the Premier League.

Leicester haven’t beaten Liverpool in any of their last six Premier League meetings, and a win at Anfield here would be their first since 2000.

Team news: Liverpool will be without Martin Skrtel, Joe Gomez, Danny Ings, James Milner, Daniel Sturridge and Jon Flanagan, they all remain sidelined. However, Dejan Lovren could possibly return to the squad after recovering from his knee injury. Simon Mignolet is a doubt but is set to replace Adam Bogdan in goal if fit.

I’m looking forward to this game, Leicester have been outstanding this season under new manager Claudio Ranieri. I expect a lot of goals and an entertaining game. Liverpool must keep it tight at the back to keep out in-form Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. The midfield battle will be key and Liverpool must win the battle to be in with a chance of winning, and they need to be dominate all over the pitch to keep Leicester on the back foot. Jordan Henderson will be key.

Regarding team news – Will Jürgen Klopp  decide to go with Benteke or Origi up top. Personally, I think that Benteke needs a run of games and he’ll be a handful for Leicester’s defence, but lacks that pace and cutting edge. So Klopp may favour Origi due to his good form, pace and stamina.

However, I think he’ll start Lallana and Coutinho behind Benteke. With Roberto Firmino on the bench, he’s been out of form recently.

My predicted lineup: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Henderson, Coutnho, Lallana, Benteke.

Form guide:
Liverpool’s last five: WWLDL
Leicester last five: WDWWW

My prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Leicester.

Fancy a bet? 2-2 draw @ 11/1 with Sky Bet.