Monthly Archives: October 2011

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.

https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/19350

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!

EPL: Everton v Liverpool, Goodison Park, 12.45BST, 1/10/11 (0-2)

A deserved Mersey derby win in the end was ours, but the victory was undermined by the fact that the referree made a decision, mid-way through the first half, that saw an even game turn gradually in our favour, as Jack Rodwell was shown a red card for a tackle where he took the ball, but where his follow-through caught the man – Luis Suarez.

30 years ago, it would not have been a foul. Twenty years ago it might have been. These days, the climate is such that as well as being regarded as potentially dangerous, it may also have warranted a yellow card…but a red? Rodwell – and Everton – were very unlucky. And so the game changed from even to not.

And then The Ref started letting worse Everton tackles go with either lesser or no punishment.

Cahill was rightly booked almost immediately afterwards for a tackle on Charlie Adam, but it was was far worse than Rodwell’s, so the right decision here made the earlier one stand out more as the inconsistent one, but the ref did nothing when what looked like a red-card tackle came in from Tony Hibbert onto Adam again.

Adam’s response was to shortly after that hit a rasper against the bar. It was his most notable contribution before making way for Gerrard, in the second half, as The Skipper continued his return to match fitness with a half-hour run-out, where his passing skills were immediately noticeable, after their absence.

But it was another incident at the end of the first half that could have been match defining. Suarez received the ball just inside the corner of the Everton penalty box and had his legs taken by Jagielka, in a rash challenge that gave us a clear penalty. Kuyt took it and placed it nice and low to his right – and Howard’s left – but the big American guessed right and got down to it and pushed it away, with a very impressive save that saw us at the break still at 0-0.

As we continued to press our one-man advantage in the second half, Everton was holding out. A change was needed and mid-way through the second half, it came. Adam was within himself, perhaps understandable after the challenges he received, but Downing was disappointingly ineffective on the left, so as Adam was replaced by Gerrard, Downing made way for Bellamy. The impact was almost immediate.

Bellamy and Jose Enrique’s interplay enabled a Bellamy pass to reach the goal line, where The Spanish defender turned the ball back towards Dirk Kuyt, who managed to duck beneath the pass, to allow the ball to come to Andy Carroll, wo had pushed off his marker and made the space for himself in the middle of the penalty box to smash the ball home. It looked like a move from the training ground that had gone to plan.

Everton had not looked like scoring since Rodwell’s dismissal, and looked to settle for a 0-1 score line, but several minutes from the end, a run into the box by Suarez saw Baines take the ball, but his proximity to Distin led to the latter defender’s attempt to clear the ball merely give the ball back to Suarez with just the keeper to beat from close range…which Suarez did for 0-2.

There was time still for the ball to hit the Everton goal frame and bounce away again. It initially looked like Kuyt had nipped-in and touched the ball past Howerd from a dinked-in corner kick by Suarez, but replays show that Jagielka took the ball away from Kuyt, nearly scoring an own-goal in the process.

We could have come away with this result without Rodwell being sent off, but it would certainly have been much harder to achieve.