Carling Cup: Chelsea v Liverpool, 19:45GMT, Stamford Bridge, 29/11/11 (0-2)

Much maligned for being played so soon after our match against City, both teams used their squads and fielded changed line-ups fro the weekend prior, but both still fielded strong sides. Andy Carroll started for us and Suarez was on the bench. Carra and Coates were in central defence instead of Skrtel & Agger, with Martin Kelly as RB and Craig Bellamy also started but  was visibly in tears during the pre-match tribute for Gary Speed.

The first half had few chances, but we seemed to be the better side. It was early on that we nearly conceded a first chance however when David Luiz appeared to have been fouled in the area by Coates, however Ref Phil Dowd awarded a free-kick to Liverpool and booked Luiz for diving – which to my surprise, was a decision the replays seemed to vindicate.

At the other end, neither he nor the Assistant seemed to spot Andy Carroll get pushed by Luiz as a cross came over, but when Carroll went up for a ball with Alex, the Chelsea defender somewhat bizarrely raised his arm and knocked the ball away. Dowd did not see that, but the Assistant did. Alex was booked and Carroll took the penalty – but smashed it straight at stand-in keeper, Turnbull.

The game continued in a similar vein in the second half. There was a scare for us as an attempt by Malouda came down off the cross bar and the resulting brief scramble led to a blocked shot for a Chelsea corner, but just before the hour, we took the lead. Bellamy was fed on the right and we took the ball forward and yet again was provider for Maxi on the left who again scored.

A few minutes later, a free-kick on the left was taken by Bellamy whose wickedly whipped-in and curling cross went just over a central pack of defenders and attackers – to an unmarked Martin Kelly, who nodded the ball down and inside the right post for our second.

Lucas Leiva then went down injured and had to be replaced – our one major draw-back from this game, although one must also start to wonder about the mind and morale of Andy Carroll after this, whom the commentator’s noted was doing about as well for us as Torres is for Chelsea.

Chelsea brought on Anelka late on, but we stood firm to a late, if somewhat disheartened attacking flurry from Chelsea, as we saw our way into the Carling Cup semis for the first time in several years.


EPL: Liverpool v Manchester City, 16.00 GMT, Anfield, 27/11/11 (1-1)

A solid performance this and we were just the better side, but it seems that at Anfield at the moment that we just keep drawing.

Man City have trickery a-plenty, but for the most part we kept them quiet in an intriging opening half hour, but from a corner, Kompany got in for a flick that went high inside the far post for a Man City lead.

Almost instantly, we equalised. Going forward, Charlie Adam tried his luck and Lescott’s attempt to block diverted the ball past his own keeper.

City brought on Mario Balotelli who made an impact – all bad for City. Managing to draw two silly bookings (arguably harsh, I might add), he was off and City were down to ten men. Could we grab a late-winner as we had at Chelsea or were we to be denied a late winner again? It was the latter, as a good header by Andy Carroll was saved by Joe Hart, and City held on for a point.

It was, despite the result, a very good performance. We stifled City and made chances, but alas were still a little short in taking them.

Agger and Skrtel are now our first choice centre backs. Lucas Leiva has learned to not get booked so much (even though his role in itself exposes him to greater risk of such) and is proving to be an extremely reliable midfield anchor. With Johnson and Enrique providing support for the wide men, and with Kuyt or Henderson or Maxi or Downing overlapping going forward and supporting them in defence, and with Suarez running rings around defenders at times, we are looking good. Now we just need to do that little bit more that means taking three points from these games instead of one.

This game was dedicated to the son of goal-keeper, Brad Jones, who had recently succumbed to leukaemia – but it was also played hours after we learned that former footballer and Wales manager, Gary Speed, had taken his own life, to the deep shock of everyone. Speed had been featured on BBC TV just the day before and there was no indication of any turmoil, which just leaves us all the more bewildered.

RIP Luca Jones and Gary Speed MBE

EPL: Chelsea v Liverpool, 16:00GMT, Stamford Bridge, 20/11/11 (1-2)

A close-knit affair was won late-on by a quality solo goal from our right back.

Close though it was, it was to some extent, one of those “game of two halves” affairs, where we were the better side in the first half and Chelsea had the better of the second.

As we pressed and harried, Jon Obi Mikel was given the ball just after the half-hour mark, outside his own penalty box. Charlie Adam was onto him straight away and his tackle forced the ball away and it was taken on by Bellamy, who played an instant one-two with Suarez, but instead of shooting, played the ball to the left for Maxi to slot past Cech. It was reward for the hard work and diligence that had snuffed out Chelsea so well in the first half whilst creating some openings.

Chelsea came back at us in the second half and not long into it, a dangerous run bu Malouda into our box ended in a cross-shot which came to Sturridge at the far post who managed to slot the ball in for the equaliser. Reina then made a superb low save from a flicked header after a free-kick, when it could easily have slipped past and under him.

We had to go under the cosh for a while, but always looked dangerous.

Torres and Merieles were brought on as late subs at about the 85 minute mark, but almost immediately after that, we won the game. From the middle of the pitch, Charlie Adam played a long ball wide right into the path of Glen Johnson, who took the ball in his stride and came inside Ashley Cole and into the box and slid the ball inside the far post for a superb solo goal.

It was a close one, not a classic, but still a very good game, that we shaded.

EPL: Liverpool v Swansea City, 15.00 GMT, Anfield, 5/11/11 (0-0)

On a day that saw the Anfield crowd appreciate the armed services pre-match, the home side were however unable to either provide the additional honour of a good performance, or a win.

Swansea played some good football at times, and their interplay and quick movement at times reminded me all too much of the first home game versus Sunderland and how we looked more likely to retain possession, but Swansea – like Sunderland – looked dangerous when they had it. That proved to be a fairly prophetic recollection and comparison.

The latter stages of the first half were omitted from the highlights as it consisted almost entirely of Livepool possession that went nowhere. The wide men, Henderson and Downing were ineffective and Downing was instead playing through Jose Enrique, who rarely got the ball across to anyone.

Indeed, we could have gone in behind, as on a rare foray into our half, Enrique seemed to body check a Swansea man to shepherd the ball out of play, which I and others around me thought was a penalty – but it was not given.

Henderson was rightly subbed at half-time for Kuyt and the second-half was much more open – a bad thing. Swansea had chances which thankfully the never took, blasting the ball over when the goal was gaping. Reina also almost let someone in with a sloppy touch.

A late push came however and we did nearly win it. A few chances came, none better than a cracking effort from Glen Johnson that was tipped-over – but a late winner did not come and frankly we got no more or less than we deserved and Swansea certainly did not deserve to lose.

EPL: WBA v Liverpool, 17.30BST, The Hawthorns, 29/10/11 (0-2)

A surprisingly comfortable win for us at The Hawthorns was perhaps more notable for how poor West Brom were, but whilst we can be quite happy with the result, I doubt I am alone in thinking that this could have been an opportunity for a hatfull – but we never quite got into gear for that.

Our first came early on, after a penalty that was dispatched by Charlie Adam. Suarez had the ball in the box, but was blocked off and put to ground by the defender. What was odd was that The Ref initially did not blow, but the assistant flagged, and then he blew and awarded the penalty. Aside from the fact that we scored, the home fans did not react well to that.

The second goal came as a result of a West Brom giving the ball away in midfield, which led to a ball into Suarez, wide right, who played in Andy Carroll, who was one-on-one with the keeper. A heavy and poor first touch almost ruined the opportunity, but Carroll made up for it by getting the outside of his left boot to the ball before the advancing Foster, to make it 0-2.

The second half was a stroll for us, where the now usual mixture of so-so efforts on goal, decent saves, as well as a number of off-side decisions that we should have avoided, and then, finally, hitting the post (Downing) meant that we did not add to the scoreline, whilst West Brom hardly looked like getting a goal at all.

It should be noted that we had a mid-week match, and West Brom didn’t, yet we were still so much better than them, whilst appearing to coast a little.

Carling Cup: Stoke City v Liverpool, 19:45BST, Britannia Stadium, 26/10/11 (1-2)

This one seemed to be following a similar pattern to the previous home games, as we failed to make and take clear chances, but this time we went behind and came back.

At the end of another first half where we probably should have gone in ahead, we went in behind instead, as an awkward bounce and a physical Stoke challenge took the ball away from Coates on our left, which resulted in a cross into Kenwyn Jones whose header was too strong and too well placed for Reina. Coates should never have let that happen.

Early into the second half, Suarez received the ball wide on the left, as we attacked. With two defenders on him, he stood and weighed his options, whilst the defenders stood off him, wary of making a challenge. Henderson ran past him to the left, possibly hoping for a pass into space, but drew a defender far enough away to leave Suarez one-on-one, at which point Suarez produced what could be the goal of the season. He nutmegged the defender in front of him and ran on to the ball and proceeded to curl it wide of the keeper – who was well placed and really had his goal covered – but with the perfect amount of bend to take it inside the far post. It was a strike of pure perfection.

The game was set-up for a finale which didn’t quite materialise – that is until into the last ten minutes. A long ball into the Stoke box was headed out, but right to Henderson, whose first time volley was another piece of perfection, as it found Suarez on the left side of the six yard box, from where he headed the ball across and past the keeper for his and our second. It was a deserved victory that brought us a welcome morale boosting win at a stadium and against a team who have been very difficult for us to win against recently.

EPL: Liverpool v Norwich City, 17.30BST, 22/10/11 (1-1)

Following the disappointment that we only got a point against Man Utd last time, was the aggravation at the same result against a Norwich side that we should have put away but for some poor work on goal and one or two fine saves.

We made some good chances but didn’t take them. Norwich for their part were making some half-chances, and whilst none greatly troubled Reina, there were too many for comfort.

A first half that we dominated without managing to score looked to have come to an end when, in added-on time, Bellamy found himself in front of goal with the keeper and a defender to beat, and although the ball deflected off the defender, it found the net to give us a 1-0 lead that the performance, if not the finishing to that point, deserved.

The second half continued in that sort of vein, but on the hour, a move broke down in midfield which saw the ball quickly played from midfield to wide-right. The cross from Pilkington was to the penalty spot, where Reina and two defenders went for it, but all were beaten to it by Grant Holt, whose header effectively found an unguarded net.

As we upped the pace at the end, looking for the winner, chances came, but including a terrific save from Norwich keeper Ruddy, from Suarez, the word that sums up our failure to win the match is profligacy.

Calling all football fans – sign this E-Petition!

Petition to force the Sun newspaper to release its Hillsborough “The Truth” sources and documents

Responsible department: Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Full disclosure by the Sun Newspaper to the Hillsborough independant panel of all it’s records, including sources and documents relating to the ‘The Truth’ story published on 19/04/1989.

EPL: Liverpool v Man Utd, 12.45 BST, 15/10/11 (1-1)

After recent consecutive home wins against the Mancs, and our side looking stronger than it has – and with Steven Gerrard making his first start of the season, there were reasonable hopes, if not expectations that this would continue, but it was not to be.

A tight first half generated few chances, but we were looking the more likely. The best of those was when a speculative Charlie Adam effort rebounded to Suarez, who quickly shuffled into a shooting position, but his snap-shot was too close to keeper De Gea.

The second-half saw us continue to threaten without really testing the keeper. Suarez was a constant thorn in the Man Utd defence as on several occasions he nicked the ball away from a defender and made his way into the penalty area, but was not able to fully capitalise. It was then that Suarez appeared to catch Evra on the thigh, when going for the ball, although no foul was given. Evra rolled around as though he was in agony, but unless he happened to hurt himself when he went to ground, this did not seem to be consistent with the nature of the tackle and any injury it may have caused. This led to a protracted spat between the two, with both players spoken to by the Ref. Evra was booked. Suarez was not.

Charlie Adam, roughly half way through the second half, then came charging through the midfield and just outside the box was tripped by Ferdinand and won a free-kick. After the game, Ferdinand claimed that any contact was insufficient to bring the player down – but as Dalglish pointed out, Ferdinand admitted to making contact. What I would add is that it doesn’t take that much contact to trip someone who is running by you.

Another post-match comment was made by Steven Gerrard about the subsequent free-kick that he took. He admitted that he had attempted to lift it over the wall and into the goal. Perhaps if he had made a better hash of that, he wouldn’t have scored – but seeing as he instead hit the ball too low, it went into the gap that for some reason Ryan Giggs had made by moving to his left. The ball therefore went through the wall and into the unguarded side of the goal, leaving us celebrating, and Man Utd players wondering what Ryan Giggs thought he was doing.

Pitch side, Rooney, Nani and Hernandez were waiting to come on as we scored. Their appearance did lead to a slightly more open game, but to our chagrin, from a corner, Smalling flicked-on the ball for Hernandez to head-in from very close range.

This led to a frantic last ten minutes as we searched for a winner. Almost immediately, we broke down the left and a cross into Dirk Kuyt arriving at full pace saw him make good contact, but again shot too close to the keeper. It was a decent save, but it was a disappointing failure to convert.

Henderson then hit a dipping effort towards goal, forcing a better save. A goal mouth scramble didn’t quite lead to a red shirt being able to poke the ball home, but Martin Skrtel should have done better than skying the ball over the bar – before Henderson again rose in the box to head the ball, but the effort was high, and United held on.

We can take from the game the observation that United were barely holding-on for a point, and that we were the better side, but to actually be the better side, you need to score more goals than your opponent, and for the amount of possession and the number of shots on goal, we should have won the game. The margin between drawing and winning was small, but we were on the wrong side of that.

As for the post-match complaint by Evra that he was racially abused by Suarez, we will have to see how that pans out, but whilst I haven’t been a fan of some of Luis’s antics, I’d be surprised if he was guilty this time, given Evra’s own behaviour.

It only took them six months…

The Guardian has finally got around to correcting its article concerning Spirit of Shankly’s (SOS) attendance at the “March for the Alternative rally”, in London, in March 2011, by adding a footnote. See here.

So where SOS Officer Roy Bentham claims that, “There was a vote and our membership decided we should support the TUC and the march, that we should do our bit to oppose what is going on“, The Guardian has now pointed out that there was, in fact, “no formal vote” taken on the matter by SOS, at which anyone could have done what Bentham claims happened.

The Guardian was told this back in March , but SOS did not admit that the information was false until May (with the now infamous claim by Secretary Graham Smith, that Bentham’s comments were a “slip of the keyboard“, when Bentham had only been in verbal contact with The Guardianwhoops), and has now finally acknowledged as being so by The Guardian, with this long overdue correction – in October.

Ain’t the National Press and the state of democracy in this country just grand!