Monthly Archives: November 2011

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.

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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.