Monthly Archives: August 2011

Carling Cup: Exeter City v Liverpool, St James Park, 19:45pm 24/8/2011 (1-3)

A solid performance by a strong side, with a few players getting some match practice that they had not quite had, saw Liverpool progress through this potential banana-skin of a tie.

Luis Suarez starred, scoring one and assisting both the others, scored by Maxi and Carroll. Exeter scored courtesy of a late penalty, conceded by the returning Martin Skrtel. Despite that, it was good to see the big central defender playing, particularly in view of the departure of Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

Whilst Exeter managed one or two moments in addition to the penalty when they threatened the Liverpool goal, Liverpool were rarely troubled and this was a comfortable win.

Exactly what was wanted going into what will surely be a tougher game against Bolton, on Saturday evening.

EPL: Arsenal v Liverpool, The Emirates, 12:45pm, 20/8/2011 (0-2)

Joy at last at The Emirates!

An even first-half that saw Arsenal lose Koscielny due to back spasms, continued to be even in the second-half until just before the 70 minute mark, when Frimpong committed his second bookable offence and was sent-off. At virtually the same time, Liverpool substituted Suarez and Meireles for Carroll and Kuyt. Suddenly we had taken control, as the newly introduced players, with their nimble craft and skill, took advantage of 10-man Arsenal.

A nice move around the Arsenal box saw an Arsenal attempted clearance rebound off Ramsey into their own goal.

The game was won when another fine passing move led to Meireles being in space on the right with a shot-on, but instead he centred for a tap-in by Suarez.

An even game was therefore won in the last twenty minutes due to two bookable challenges by the same Arsenal player, as well as timely and effective substitutions.

This performance was initially a solid one where Arsenal play-makers, such as Walcott and Arshavin were kept quiet. Arshavin was probably as much to blame for this as Liverpool were, but Walcott was kept out of the game by an excellent performance by Jose Enrique, who was even better today than he was in a pretty impressive performance last week against Sunderland.

Certainly this week, the players seemed to play at a good tempo and as a team that knew each other well, for the whole game, in a stark contrast to how the Sunderland game ended, after a strong first half.

The two-goal winning margin and early kick-off puts us top, so I will enjoy that for at least the next hour or so, until the rest of the full-times.

Next-up is Exeter away, in the Carling Cup. No bananas, please.

EPL: Liverpool v Sunderland, Anfield 3pm, 13/8/2011 (Result 1-1)

It was an interesting starting line-up. New signing Jose Enrique started at left back, with Flanagan on the right, and a midfield of Lucas, Adam, Henderson and Downing, with Suarez and Carroll up front.

We started brightly and soon began to knock the ball around to find the gaps with a fair degree of fluency. Enrique looks to have a good first touch and Adam was showing how he can influence things from the middle, whilst we were also working the ball wide to Henderson or Downing, but Sunderland defended their flanks quite well. Then came a golden chance, as an attempted clearance was hit at Suarez, and he pounced and ran through with the ball, but was taken out by Richardson before he could slot home. The penalty was awarded, but somehow referee Phil Dowd did not think that the foul prevented a goal scoring opportunity, and only booked Richardson, to the incredulity of the Liverpool support – and then Suarez blazed the penalty over.

Shortly after though, we got a free kick on the left, which Charlie Adam  – who didn’t hang about at all to take it – angled it in to the near post and Suarez flicked it in for 1-0.

We dominated, but that final piece of luck or that final touch deserted us. Carroll thought he had made it 2-0 but seemed to be harshly adjudged to have fouled his opponent when going up for the ball, which he had taken down and slammed into the net from close range. A terrific run from Downing from the left and across the front of the penalty area ended with a shot that hit the crossbar and bounced over. Both teams however seemed to be tiring as we came to half time.

The second half performance was a near total contrast. Suddenly, the passes into Suarez were going astray as he kept changing direction as the ball was being played to him, suggesting that there had not been enough team training including him to put him on the same wavelength as everyone else. The passing became a little sloppier and the fluidity that was there for significant periods in the first half just disappeared. Long balls up to Andy Carroll were, on the whole, well handled by Sunderland, but we seemed to revert to that game, and shades of the Braga game last season loomed large. We just were not threatening.

Sunderland were not posing much threat either and seemed to want to contain at the back and get the ball to quick and tricky players, such as Gyan, and they did successfully beat a couple of players on occasion before any such move fizzled out, but then we gifted them an opportunity.

The one criticism of new boy Jose Enrique (who does appear to be a good buy and generally had a decent game) was that he sometimes seemed to stand-off a little bit on the wings, giving the opportunity for the wingers to cross. He was one of about three Liverpool players who seemed to get drawn to the ball on one occasion in the second half which led to a short pull-back which resulted in a cross to the far post where an unmarked Larsson shaped to volley at goal in such a way that you knew it was going to be 1-1 before he even hit it. Have to say it was beautifully taken.

There was little in the way of a charge to win the game. Suarez seemed to be becoming petulant out of frustration, which coupled with his being on a different wavelength from his team mates, resulted in his being replaced by Kuyt, but whose endeavour and touch were not enough, as the game petered out as a thoroughly disappointing draw – and a game than Flanagan will probably be happy to forget.

It had started so brightly and looked like being an opening day win – but it ended up looking like we could have done with an extra pre-season friendly.

On the plus side, I liked the look of Jose Enrique, despite the one short-coming I felt was in his game today, and Charlie Adam looks like he could be the best deputy for Steven Gerrard we have seen, to the point where he will be challenging the skipper for a starting place, when Stevie is fit. Downing was a little in and out of the game, but showed how he can run at the opposition, create chances and score and Henderson showed promise with a reasonable if unexceptional performance, but I still think he is more likely to feature on our bench this season.

To sum up, we really should have won this game, and with a touch more luck and a touch more match fitness, we probably would have – but we dropped two points here.