Crystal Palace 1 – 2 Liverpool

Liverpool Lucky to Win

Crystal Palace will undoubtedly feel hard done by after squandering countless chances to secure a vital victory against the Reds.

Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha in particular will rue their missed opportunities as they ultimately kept Liverpool in the game until Mane and Salah were able to steal the win.

Pessimism aside, it’s another example of this Liverpool team breaking bad habits, as it’s rare to see the Reds win a game when they don’t deserve it, unlike rivals Manchester United.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 6:

 

Karius was quite naive and clumsy when coming out to pressure Wilfried Zaha, and it cost his team what could’ve been a decisive penalty.

He bounced back well though and made a couple of strong saves to help keep the Reds in it.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5:

Another pacy winger has gotten the better of the young Scouser; Zaha was turning him inside out all game.

Going forward though, TAA was a useful asset, but you have to wonder how he will cope with the challenge of Leroy Sane in the Champions League.

Joel Matip – 4:

 

Quite simply, Matip’s time to prove himself is quickly running out as Benteke bullied him from start to finish.

Once again he was incredibly shaky at the back, and surely Lovren will have to take his place against Manchester City.

Virgil van Dijk – 6:

The Dutchman didn’t do much wrong himself, but his one glaring weakness was on show at Selhurst Park.

He spends an awful lot of time telling others what to do and where to go, but sometimes you need to take charge yourself and deal with situations even if someone else should’ve already done it.

Andy Robertson – 8 (Man of the Match):

 

Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Andy Robertson are easily the first three names on the team sheet these days.

The Scot was outstanding again and coolly provided the winning assist for Mo Salah late in the second-half.

Jordan Henderson – 4:

 

Hendo struggled badly for the vast majority of the game to deal with Palace’s pressing game and to provide any meaningful contribution going forward.

Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to get a more influential player in the summer to sit at the base of the midfield.

Gini Wijnaldum – 3:

 

It’s difficult to asses Gini’s performance because he did next to nothing, it was easy to forget he was on the pitch until he was subbed off.

He must be better against City, as he will again be tasked with the job of harassing the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.

James Milner – 7:

 

Milner was by far the best out of a poor midfield, at least he was able to provide the front three with some amount of service.

He helped open the scoring with an intelligent low cross for Mane to put away after wrong-footing Wan-Bissaka.

Mo Salah – 7:

 

This was certainly a more quiet game from Salah than fans are used to, and yet he still scored the winner.

A combination of a good defensive performance from Palace and a poor midfield performance from Liverpool restricted the Egyptian, but when he finally got his chance, he took it with impressive composure.

Sadio Mane – 7:

 

This game from Mane perfectly summarised his season so far, full of ups and downs.

Mane wasted a chance to score when he chose to dive, he then had a goal correctly ruled out for offside before finally opening the scoring after some excellent movement in the box.

Roberto Firmino – 6:

 

Firmino struggled without any form of service from those around him.

He worked as hard as ever though, and will undoubtedly be chomping at the bit to be more involved against City.

Subs

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6 (on for Wijnaldum – 64′):

Ox was better than Wijnaldum in the midfield, but not good enough.

Bizarrely he was playing as though he was saving himself for City, as opposed to working his socks off to secure his place.

Adam Lallana – N/A (on for Mane – 65′):

 

Sadly Lallana lasted only a few minutes before coming off injured.

Hopefully, it’s less serious than it appeared, but it would seem his season, and perhaps World Cup hopes are over.

 

Dejan Lovren – 6 (on for Lallana – 70′):

 

Lovren was solid as Klopp changed to a back three.

Matip’s performance should see Lovren return to the starting lineup soon.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Danny Ings

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 7:

Like his team, Klopp’s performance can be judged separately over the two halves.

Lovren should’ve started ahead of Matip, and the same might be said for the Ox and Wijnaldum; likewise, it’s unfathomable that he wouldn’t have realised Palace’s game plan would be to unleash Zaha against TAA.

Thankfully Klopp changed things in the second half, and his decision to switch to a 3-5-2 formation ultimately stunted Palace’s attack and won the game.

Talking Points

TAA Roasted Again

No one wants to be too harsh on the youngster, particularly after such an encouraging season that has been mostly faultless.

However, it is clear that fast, direct-running wingers can get the better of him, and this must be addressed one way or another before the game against City.

Unfortunately, Joe Gomez is injured and Nathaniel Clyne is unfit, so the options are limited, however perhaps Emre Can or Milner could slot in, otherwise Trent will need more support, potentially leaving gaps in other areas.

Klopp’s Adjustments

Jurgen Klopp won in his 100th Premier League game for Liverpool in what has been a thoroughly enjoyable although trophyless start to his stint.

Klopp’s ability to read a game and understand how to adjust his team accordingly paid dividends here, and he will need to do it again against City.

For example, if he leaves TAA at right back, he could exploit City’s eagerness to attack him by encouraging Salah to stay up as high as possible and drop into the space vacated by their overlapping left back.

Season Defining Run Ahead

Starting on Thursday, Liverpool face City at Anfield, Everton away and City away in the space of a mere seven days.

Despite being the Merseyside Derby, the games against City are far more important at this stage of the season, particularly because Chelsea bow find themselves 10 points adrift of the Reds in 5th place.

If Liverpool can emerge victorious following that manic week, then the possibility of a second place finish and a sixth Champions League title could well be on the cards.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 02/04/2018

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Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

Reds Return to Action at Selhurst Park

Now that the international break is finally over it’s time to get back to what really matters, Liverpool in the Premier League and Champions League.

Liverpool will tomorrow square off with Roy Hodgson’s resurgent Crystal Palace in a game where both sides will be desperate for a good result.

Palace are still facing the possibility of relegation, whereas the Reds will be keen to keep the pressure on both Spurs and Chelsea who are behind them in the race for a top-four finish.

Crystal Palace

Team News and Predicted Lineup

crypal

Former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson will have the job of trying to derail the rampant Reds, but he could find himself outgunned.

Some of his key players are under an injury cloud including the likes of Jefferey Schlupp, James Tomkins and most importantly Wilfried Zaha.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek may feature in a five-man midfield if Zaha is out, while Timothy Fosu-Mensah or Martin Kelly could replace Tomkins.

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineup

crypalpool

Both Emre Can and Dejan Lovren had minor injuries before the international break and will likely be given more time to recover.

Andy Robertson picked up a knock for Scotland, but he should be able to start, unlike Joe Gomez who picked up a potentially serious ankle injury for England.

The team more or less picks itself with the injuries mentioned above, but Alberto Moreno could give Robertson a rest, while Gini Wjnaldum could start in the midfield.

Analysis

An interesting theme to this game is that there a number of ex-Reds who could feature aside from the manager, including Mamadou Sakho, Martin Kelly and Christian Benteke.

Zaha and Benteke are stylistically similar to Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku who were able to defeat Liverpool a few weeks ago.

However, the Reds will have learnt from the mistakes made in that game, and they will be more than confident of being able to crack Palace’s defence multiple times.

Prediction

This will be a big test for Liverpool, as they have to overcome three factors that have led to dropped points in the past.

The game is against one of our ‘bogey teams’, it’s an early kickoff, and it’s straight after the international break.

Regardless, this Liverpool team has been breaking bad habits this year and will do so again on the weekend with a 1-3 win.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 30/03/2018

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Liverpool 5 – 0 Watford

Salah Slaughters The Hornets

If there’s anything that makes up for a loss against Manchester United, it’s a big win at home the following week.

From start to finish, The Reds annihilated their opponents, and on another day the final score could’ve been doubled.

Mo Salah opened the scoring with some individual brilliance, followed by a simple tap-in from an Andy Robertson cross. Firmino sealed the win with an unorthodox finish before Salah netted two more to take his league tally up to 28.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 6:

Karius had very little to do, a testament to the brilliance of the team in front of him.

One free-kick rattled his crossbar, but other than that, the German simply had to recycle possession.

Joe Gomez – 7:

Jurgen Klopp wisely allowed Trent Alexander-Arnold to step out of the limelight for this game after his mistakes last week, Gomez more than rose to the occasion though.

It seems that Gomez is the better defender, but TAA is better going forward, it would be wise to rotate the two in games that need one trait more than the other.

Joel Matip – 6:

 

Dejan Lovren was also omitted after last week’s nightmare, and Matip took his chance to stake a claim to become a regular.

He appeared far calmer and assured than in previous games, despite a couple of wayward passes.

Virgil van Dijk – 7.5:

 

VVD was back to his commanding, organising best against Watford.

While The Hornets didn’t do much to test the defence, part of that was to do with VVD being proactive and not allowing them to get started.

Andy Robertson – 9:

 

Even if Liverpool were given an unlimited budget, it’d be difficult to justify replacing the Scot with just about anyone.

He defended superbly and his cross for Salah’s second was utterly sublime.

Jordan Henderson – 5:

 

The captain is such a frustrating player to watch at times.

He played some unbelievably good passes under pressure to put Mane and Salah through, but also gave the ball away needlessly when there was no pressure.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6:

 

Gini played well, but it’s clear that he is either unfit or just rusty after missing the last few weeks.

He was mostly tidy in possession and reliable in defence, but ultimately failed to truly impact the game, even with the dominance some of his teammates showed.

Emre Can – 6:

 

Can came off early due to a back injury, but Klopp later assured fans it was “not too serious”.

Before coming off, he made some good runs and linked up well with the players around him.

Mo Salah – 10 (Man of the Match):

 

It’s not been since Luis Suarez was banging in goals that Liverpool fans have been so excited to see a player week in, week out.

His first and third goals were particularly impressive, with his ball control somewhat resembling the Uruguayan at times.

Sadio Mane – 7.5:

 

Mane’s greatest strength this season has been his selflessness.

He works tirelessly for the team, and rarely goes himself if the option to pass gives the team a greater chance of scoring, as displayed for Salah’s hat-trick goal.

Roberto Firmino – 8:

 

Firmino’s skill and industry perfectly rounds out this lethal front-three.

His linkup play and defending was typically on point, and his round-the-back flick to score his goal was masterful.

Subs

James Milner – 7 (on for Can – 26′):

 

It will be such a shame if Milner moves on at the end of the season.

He was again a calming, and yet potent influence in the midfield.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6 (on for Wijnaldum – 70′):

 

The Ox was clearly keen to make up for last week.

Perhaps he was trying too hard to make amends, but regardless, his energy helped Liverpool push on and continue punishing Watford.

Danny Ings – 7.5 (on for Firmino – 79′):

 

Every Liverpool fan was willing him on to score in front of The Kop.

Unfortunately, he was denied twice by Orestis Karnezis, but the second time was enough for Salah to tap in the rebound.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Ragnar Klavan, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alberto Moreno

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 9:

It was imperative that Klopp set his team up to instantly respond to the questions that were raised at Old Trafford.

He made bold, but necessary changes to the lineup, and that paid dividends.

As time goes on, it’s becoming clear that the German is slowly but surely eradicating bad habits that had become ingrained in the club for many years before he arrived.

Talking Points

Bouncing Back

It happened after losing to Manchester City, then against Tottenham and now against Manchester United.

It’s becoming a running theme for Liverpool, and one that will serve The Reds well in the long-term chase for silverware.

If Liverpool can go on another unbeaten run, then a top-four finish will be certain, and a good showing in the Champions League likely.

Attacking Records

Hendo and Mane both achieved individual milestones by making their 200th and 50th Liverpool appearances respectively.

But it was Firmino and Salah’s record-breaking goal tallys that stood out and will surely make the headlines.

This is Firmino’s greatest goal-scoring season to date, and Salah now moves into pole position for the league’s golden boot, four ahead of Harry Kane and a whopping seven ahead of Sergio Aguero.

International Break

The international break is never welcome as it is an unnecessary interruption and chance for players to get injured.

It has the potential to derail form and momentum, so Klopp will be hoping all of his players come back fresh and can pick up from where they left off.

The good news is that it will give a few players the chance to recover from niggling injuries, and others some much needed match fitness.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 18/03/2018

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Liverpool vs Watford – Preview

Time To Bounce Back

After the disappointing loss last week at Old Trafford, it is more important than ever to play well and pick up a win.

Last night it was announced that Manchester City will be Liverpool’s opponent in the Champions League quarter-finals, and that the games will fall either side of the Merseyside Derby.

Now is the time to rebuild form and pick up as many points in the league as possible, particularly against mid-table teams.

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineup

livwat

Nathaniel Clyne won’t be match fit, but everyone else should be available for tonight’s match.

Jordan Henderson will probably come back into the team, as could Gini Wijnaldum at the expense of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Joel Matip and Joe Gomez could also be options to replace Dejan Lovren and Trent Alexander-Arnold after their poor showings against Manchester United.

Watford

Team News and Predicted Lineup

wat

Conversely, Watford have been plagued by injuries and absences lately, and will be without many key players.

Gerard Deulofeu, Nathaniel Calabah, Tom Cleverley, Younes Kaboul and Christian Kabasele are just a few names that continue to be sidelined.

On the other hand though, the likes of Will Hughes and Heurelho Gomes could return and the tactics and formation could thereby be tweaked.

Analysis

This game will ultimately boil down to which unit can get the better of the other between Liverpool’s attack and Watford’s defence.

If Watford can frustrate Liverpool, they also have goalscorers in the team that could cause an upset including Troy Deeney, Richarlison and Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will be itching to put in an improved display after lacklustre performances against United.

Prediction

Despite the disappointing performance last week, Liverpool should have no problems turning Watford over at Anfield.

If Liverpool start well, then Watford could again lose convincingly on the road as they did against Arsenal last week.

Liverpool will roll on with a 3-0 victory.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 17/03/2018.

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Manchester United 2 – 1 Liverpool

Disappointing Defeat for Reds Against the Old Enemy

Liverpool fans were left devastated by the result and poor performance at Old Trafford, as Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku exposed both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dejan Lovren.

Jose Mourinho, for all of his faults, again demonstrated why he is considered one of the very best managers of his generation as he put on a tactical masterclass.

Both of United’s goals come from route one football that was woefully dealt with by the Liverpool defence, and despite some poor refereeing and a couple of strong penalty shouts, Liverpool have no one to blame but themselves.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 6:

Karius could do nothing about either of Rashford’s well-taken goals, and was virtually untested for the rest of the game.

He wanted to come forward for a corner late in the game, but was oddly ushered back by Jurgen Klopp.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 2:

 

In games like these, it’s important to keep context in mind, TAA is a young player who is naturally a midfielder; he also didn’t receive the help he needed from those around him.

However, it is undeniable that his inexperience showed as Rashford targeted him successfully.

Dejan Lovren – 3:

 

Oh dear, he’s back, the old Lovren is back.

Unlike TAA, Lovren is an experienced player in his natural position, and despite spending all week talking about how he was going to manhandle Lukaku, he was embarrassed by the Belgian regularly.

Virgil van Dijk – 4: 

 

VVD didn’t fare much better than his partner, but he did improve and was more comfortable after floundering under United’s initial wave.

He unbelievably missed a free header from only a couple of yards in the first-half, but was better at handling Lukaku; it’s a mystery why Klopp didn’t have him doing this from the start.

Andy Robertson – 6: 

It’s a testament to his form that Mourinho avoided his flank for most of the night.

Robbo couldn’t do anything about the goals and was able to whip in a few dangerous crosses, but no one was alert enough to get on the end of them.

 

Emre Can – 4: 

Despite what some have argued, Can was another who had a poor day at the office.

He was outmuscled by Lukaku and then simply gave up for United’s second goal; he also almost allowed them to score a third when he didn’t track the run of Juan Mata.

James Milner – 6: 

Milner’s tried and worked hard, but he couldn’t do enough to turn the game around for his team.

He looked one of the more likely players to create something as he drove the team forward and kept finding runners with his passes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 3: 

 

Simply put, the Ox looked lost.

It’s bizarre that a player that had been so influential in the last few weeks could become so anonymous overnight; his constant mishandling of possession drew the fury of Klopp.

Mo Salah – 5: 

 

It’s difficult to criticise the Egyptian after such a fine debut season, and the fact that he was completely marked out of the game.

Mourinho knew that keeping Salah under wraps would be key to winning and both Nemanja Matic and Eric Bailley did just that to perfection.

Sadio Mane – 4:

 

The fact that United focused so heavily on Salah meant that Mane was afforded far more time and space than he normally would against such a defensive team; unfortunately, he did nothing with i1t.

He gave the ball away countless times, and despite an improved second-half, he rarely looked dangerous.

Roberto Firmino – 7 (Man of the Match): 

The best of the worst might be a more accurate description.

Firmino did everything to drag his team over the line, but no one else seemed to show the same desire and fight as the Brazilian.

Subs

Adam Lallana – 5 (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain – 62′): 

 

Lallana is still a long way off from getting back to his best.

He tried hard to unlock the defence, but he just doesn’t look the same players as he was before the injury.

Gini Wijnaldum – 5 (on for Alexander-Arnold – 80′): 

 

Club captain Jordan Henderson neither started, nor came on as a substitute; whether this is because he’s fallen out of favour, or was simply unfit remains to be seen.

In his place, Gini came on, but couldn’t change the result.

Dominic Solanke – 5 (on for Robertson – 84′): 

 

It’s concerning that The Reds have to turn to an u23s striker with no EPL goals to his name to try and grab the winner at Old Trafford.

The youngster did nothing wrong, but having a decent winger or an experienced striker on the bench may have given Liverpool a better chance of stealing a result.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 5:

Team selection was not an issue, even though in hindsight Lovren and TAA were poor, they were in excellent form in the buildup.

However, it is clear that Klopp should’ve had VVD marking Lukaku, and not the dodgy Croatian, if VVD won the headers that Lovren missed, then United would never have scored their goals.

Ultimately though, it was the players who let Klopp down, and he will need to pick them up in order to finish the season on a high.

Talking Points

What It Means

 

In my preview, I predicted a comfortable win for the better team, Liverpool.

In reality, United were the deserved victors and really should’ve won by more in the end, despite being bailed out by some poor refereeing.

Does this result mean that United are in fact the better team? I don’t think so. Liverpool will use this experience and come back stronger; Liverpool are a club on the rise whereas United are declining.

Lessons Learned

 

This is a young team that hasn’t been together very long, and games like these will only benefit them in the long run.

Klopp too will have surely learnt something about his own team from the opposition, as much as Lovren and TAA were at fault for the goals, under Klopp’s system it is not too difficult to isolate individuals and force errors.

It’s clear that there are still holes in this squad and that certain players are, at least not yet, at the standard that Liverpool need.

Bounce Back

 

It’s not all doom and gloom though, Liverpool fought back valiantly where in years gone by United could’ve on to score two or three more.

Liverpool must now move on from the game and use it to go on another good run of form as they did after the defeats against Tottenham and Swansea earlier in the season.

As much as all Liverpool fans are disappointed, it’s important to keep things in perspective and remain behind the team.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea1111111111111111111

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 07/03/2018

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Manchester United vs Liverpool : Preview

Battle for Pride and Second Place

 

Given that Manchester City are running away with the title, the next best thing would be to finish 2nd.

Finishing 2nd would mean that Liverpool have placed ahead of United for the second season running, even after Jose Mourinho’s fabled ‘second season’.

This fixture is undoubtedly the greatest rivalry in England, and one of the biggest games in world football.

In recent history, this fixture has been somewhat even, mainly due to Mourinho’s insistence of making an exciting fixture as dull as possible, leading to many draws.

It remains to be seen if the controversial Portuguese manager reverts to the same tactics given Liverpool’s red-hot form and ability to find the back of the net with regularity.

Manchester United

Team News and Predicted Lineup

manutd

United are missing several players through injury including Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, Anthony Martial is also a major doubt.

Paul Pogba picked up a leg gash in training which could keep him out, if so, Mourane Fellaini could come into the team.

The rest of the team will be the same lineup that’s featured in the last few weeks, but Mourinho could switch to a 4-2-3-1 as he did in the closing stages of their match against Crystal Palace.

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineup

livmanuted

Gini Wijnaldum is unlikely to feature as he recovers from illness, and Jordan Henderson is a doubt after suffering a dead leg against Porto.

The back five and front three pick themselves, but the midfield could be subject to change depending on availability.

If Henderson is fit to start then either James Milner or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will drop out of the team, but Dejan Lovren will almost certainly start ahead of Joel Matip.

Analysis

 

Bias aside, it is clear that Liverpool are currently a superior team to United, they’re lucky to be in second place, but it is impressive how they are able to pick up wins and draws when they’re playing badly.

United’s plan will the same as usual under Mourinho, try to nick a goal while sitting back and defending for their lives.

Jurgen Klopp’s men will have to be in top form to break their stubborn defence down and snatch 2nd place from United’s hands.

Prediction

 

When the two teams faced each other earlier in the season, United were flying, and Liverpool were struggling.

Even then, United could only just hang on for a draw, but this time the tables have turned; Liverpool are playing tremendously and United are just scraping by and they have a crucial Champions League game in a few days.

This time around, Liverpool will break through Mourinho’s bus and silence Old Trafford with a 3-1 win.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 10/03/2018.

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Liverpool 0 – 0 Porto (Aggregate 5-0)

Bore Draw Enough to See Reds Through

 

In the build-up to the game, great intrigue surrounded both manager’s team selections. In the end though, both managers curiously decided to rest only half of their respective teams.

This lead to only a handful of players really their hardest to impress, and resulted in a forgettable 0-0 draw.

One of the only memorable aspects of the match was the class shown be Liverpool’s supporters, and disrespect shown by Porto’s.

Liverpool fans booed the Porto fans for deliberately ruining the minute silence in homage of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, but showed their own respect by loudly applauding legendary ‘keeper Iker Casillas when he approached The Kop.

To be fair to the travelling fans, they were the first to get there and admirably sang and cheered until well after the final whistle.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 7:

 

Another morale-boosting clean sheet for the German.

Dealt with the few things that came is way comfortably, barring one spilt shot, but there was no danger of it leading to a goal.

Joe Gomez – 6:

 

Good to see Gomez playing again after another unfortunate injury setback.

It’s clear that, despite a couple of good crosses and a solid performance, he doesn’t offer as much as Trent Alexander-Arnold in attack, and is less comfortable defending out wide.

Dejan Lovren – 7:

 

Lovren somewhat filled the role that Virgil van Dijk vacated by taking on more responsibility with the ball at his feet.

An excellent block late in the game to deny Oliver Torres was the only moment where he was truly called into action though.

Joel Matip – 6: 

 

Matip again failed to upstage Lovren, even though he didn’t have many chances to do so.

His passing was inconsistent, but this wasn’t the type of game where his defensive merits could be judged effectively

Alberto Moreno – 7: 

 

Moreno was a decent threat throughout the night in attack, and he kept pressing forward even after a couple of unsuccessful attempts.

His defensive work was also sound, but despite a good display, he won’t be replacing Andy Robertson anytime soon.

Jordan Henderson – 7: 

His resolute defensive work was the highlight of his night, as he was fairly sporadic with his passing.

He wasted a chance to put Firmino through on goal in the first half, but in the second he linked up well with Milner, drove the ball forward and played an outstanding threaded pass to the Brazilian striker.

Emre Can – 7: 

Played a more advanced role than he has done recently, but he never got out of second gear.

A cheeky nutmeg on Andre Andre gave the fans something to sing about on a mostly uneventful night.

 

James Milner – 7 (Man of the Match): 

 

Milner’s quality as a football player, and not just a workhorse, has really been demonstrated over the last few weeks.

He almost scored twice as he had to stretch to reach Lallana’s pass, and also headed a Salah cross straight at Casillas.

Adam Lallana – 6: 

 

Lallana’s first start for many months due to injury, hopefully a return to form isn’t too far away either.

His touch was typically pinpoint, but he was unable to turn his twists and turns into a genuine attacking threat.

Sadio Mane – 7:

 

Mane was another player who clearly took the night off for the most part.

Even so, Mane had a couple of difficult chances before he was replaced, but he was unable to get on the score sheet.

Roberto Firmino – 7: 

 

Firmino had an unusually quiet game, but he still worked hard for the team.

Like Mane, Firmino also had a couple of chances to win the game, but his finishing wasn’t as good as it has been in previous games.

Subs

Danny Ings – 6 (on for Firmino – 62′): 

It would’ve been nice to see Ings start this game.

He was lively when he came on and got into good positions, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

Mo Salah – 7 (on for Mane – 75′): 

Salah was given 15 minutes to try and send the fans home happy.

He created a couple of chances for his teammates, but they were unable to capitalise.

Ragnar Klavan – 5 (on for Can – 81′): 

Came on to see out the game, as Klopp switched to a back three.

A poor touch and needless foul almost cost Liverpool, as Porto nearly scored from the cross. Luckily Lovren and Klavan himself were able to block the shot well.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 6:

Ultimately, Klopp must be praised for guiding the team into the quarter-finals.

However, his decision to neither rotate the entire team, nor maintain the entire team’s form was puzzling.

The likes of Ings and Dominic Solanke would’ve benefited greatly from a full 90 minutes in the Champions League, while Mane and Firmino could’ve used a rest.

Talking Points

Through to the Next Round

 

The hard work was done in Portugal, and Liverpool deservedly march onward.

Liverpool, in their current form, should fear no team, obviously matching up with a smaller side is preferable, but beating one of Europe’s elite isn’t out of the question.

Liverpool’s potential opponents include:

Real Madrid

Tottenham (2) or (2) Juventus

Manchester City (4) or (0) Basel

Roma (1) or (2) Shakhtar Donetsk

Manchester United (0) or (0) Sevilla

Besiktas (0) or Bayern Munich (5)

Barcelona (1) or Chelsea (1)

Lack of Midfield Creativity

 

Of course, the easiest explanation for Liverpool’s subdued performance is the fact that they knew that their position was secured, so there was no need to push themselves too hard.

Another explanation though is a lack of drive and creativity from the midfield, Oxlade-Chamberlain was missed severly.

The Ox has grown to be a vital player for The Reds, so surely when he returns against United, Liverpool will be far more dynamic again.

United Up Next

 

United play their second leg game tomorrow morning, and unlike Liverpool, they don’t have the luxury of resting players due to drawing against Sevilla 0-0.

Not only will Liverpool’s players be fresher, but they’re also in better form as United have been fortunate lately to beat Chelsea and Crystal Palace.

It will certainly be the most important game of the season so far for Liverpool, and a win would be a massive step towards finishing 2nd.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 07/03/2018

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Liverpool vs Porto : 2nd Leg Preview

Liverpool Look to Finish the Job

The Reds head into the second leg of their round of 16 tie against Porto already ahead 5-0 on aggregate.

All that is need to progress to the quarter-finals is a professional performance, void of repeated slip-ups.

Both sides will have one eye on their respective leagues as Porto know their chances of progression are slim, and Liverpool have a season-defining match against Manchester United in a matter of days.

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineup

livvsport.png

 

Jurgen Klopp has been somewhat cryptic this week when asked about the possibility of rotating his players, flirting with minimal and generous rotation.

Nathaniel Clyne aside, every single Liverpool player should be available, but many deserve a rest.

Loris Karius doesn’t though and should continue in goal in front of an entirely new back four. Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and a returning Adam Lallana will make a strong midfield behind Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke who both need more game time.

Porto

Team News and Predicted Lineup

port

Sergio Conceicao faces a similar scenario and will be deciding whether to try and restore some European pride or merely resign to defeat and focus on the league.

The dangerous Vincent Aboubakar and solid Felipe are fit to return after missing the first leg and will itching to impress.

Unfortunately though, Porto also have many including strikers Tiquinho Soares and Moussa Marega, as well as talented fullback Alex Telles.

Analysis

 

This fixture is a difficult one to analyse given the unusually low stakes surrounding this round of 16 second leg tie.

The presence of Aboubakar will change the dynamics of Porto’s attack, but so will the absence of Telles, Marega and Soares.

Liverpool, regardless of the side that turns out, should have enough to see off the Portuguese champions, but if a close to full strength side plays, then a repeat result of the first leg could be on the cards.

Liverpool showed that they can cope with just about everything Porto have to throw at them, but the same can’t be said of the reverse.

Prediction

If Klopp chooses to rotate heavily, Porto will start with their tails up and attempt to get at Liverpool. But a goal or two will quell this, and Liverpool will stroll to a 2-1 victory.

If Klopp chooses to maintain recent momentum and rotate minimally, then Liverpool will get to a 3-0 lead and then take off their key players and just go through the motions until the final whistle.

Either way, Liverpool should get through to the quarter-finals without much effort.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

 

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 06/03/2018.

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Liverpool 2 – 0 Newcastle

The Goals Keep Coming for Liverpool

Another professional performance. A genuinely satisfying feeling, and one that is becoming more normal for The Reds.

Loris Karius made a crucial save to deny Mohamed Diame for Newcastle’s only real chance of the game. The defence and midfield hardly gave their opposition anything to work with.

Newcastle’s defence was predictably strong, but not enough to deny Liverpool as strikes from Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were enough for The Reds to walk away as deserved victors.

Player Ratings

Loris Karius – 7:

Showed excellent concentration to save a dangerous strike from Diame after having nothing to do for 40 minutes.

If he wasn’t so aware, the scores would’ve been level at 1-1, and the game may have taken a different direction.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7:

TAA’s progression continued last night as he again showed his qualities in defence and attack.

His ability to find space and deliver dangerous crosses regularly justifies his place ahead of Joe Gomez.

Dejan Lovren – 7:

Lorven wasn’t as dominant as his partner, but he was undoubtedly more composed that Joel Matip has been.

He could’ve done better with the chances he got from set-pieces, but aside from that, it was a pleasing return for the Croatian.

Virgil Van Dijk – 8: 

VVD hardly put a foot wrong all night.

His organisation and leadership skills were on full display, further justifying Jurgen Klopp’s decision to sign him.

Andrew Robertson – 7: 

Robbo didn’t produce the same level of performance the fans have grown accustomed to, but he was still reliable throughout.

He limited the danger that pacy DeAndre Yedlin posed considerably and with ease.

Jordan Henderson – 7: 

A good performance from the skipper, if an unspectacular one.

He’s sometimes subject to unreasonable criticism for a lack of penetration, but he moved the ball well and did everything that was asked of him.

Emre Can – 7: 

It was a gamble selecting Can to start as another yellow would’ve meant he would miss the game against Manchester United through suspension.

Fortunately, Can remained disciplined and again showed his strengths in passing and driving the ball forward.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 8: 

The Ox put in another influential display; his days of being all show and no end-product at Arsenal seem far away.

He set up Salah’s goal expertly and was lively from the first minute until he was replaced.

Mo Salah – 8 (Man of the Match): 

Even though Newcastle’s defenders made a point of marking him tightly and offering very little space to work with, he still got the better of them.

His reluctance to shoot cost him an early chance, but he made up for it with a cool finish for the opener.

Sadio Mane – 7:

Despite a couple of hiccups along the way where his touch let him down, Mane again showed his resilience and was rewarded with the winning goal.

It has to be said that he is no less valuable than Salah or Firmino despite scoring fewer goals.

Roberto Firmino – 7: 

He struggled early on with the limited space that Newcastle afforded him, but he grew into the game and reemerged as the spearhead of every attack.

An absolute pleasure to watch.

Subs

Adam Lallana – 6 (on for Mane – 74′): 

Looked to be up with the pace and will hopefully start against Porto.

James Milner – 6 (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain – 79′): 

Helped his teammates see out the game professionally.

Joel Matip – N/A (on for Firmino – 88′): 

No time to make a difference.

Unused Subs: Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Joe Gomez, Dominic Solanke

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – 8: Klopp has managed to find a better balance against sides that sit back and try to lure Liverpool into overcommitting.

Recent results have begun to change the minds of doubters who criticised the German for a percevied lack of organisation and defensive discipline.

Time will tell if this trend continues, but on current form and the promise of further additions in the Summer, it’s hard to doubt the man.

Talking Points

No Longer A One Man Army

Recently, Klopp stated that he believes that not only have other players stepped up to fill Phil Coutinho’s void, but the team is far less predictable now.

In the past when the going got tough, players would blindly give him the ball, hoping he’d conjure up a moment of magic.

The stats prove Klopp’s theory to be correct, and in fact, Liverpool’s record without the Brazilian this season has been better, perhaps due to the reasons listed above.

Liverpool have played 20 games with and 21 without Coutinho this season.

With: W8 D10 L2 1.70 points per game.

Without: W16 D2 L3 2.38 points per game.

Return of Rafa

It’s always nice to be reunited with our fat Spanish waiter.

Rafa Benitez is a man who rightfully will be remembered for his contributions to this great club both on and off the pitch.

Whether it’s the glory of Istanbul or his steadfast support to the Hillsborough families, no one will forget what he has done for the Club and City of Liverpool.

This was the first time that Klopp managed to get a win over him, and despite Newcastle facing relegation, a part of Rafa must be secretly pleased with how well Liverpool are doing.

Porto Rotation

Even though the focus will now shift to the midweek game against Porto, one eye must be kept on Manchester United.

Klopp faces a tricky conundrum; should he give key players a well-earned rest, or keep them together to maintain the current momentum.

The tie is more or less over, and Klopp would be well within his rights to field an entirely changed XI.

However, doing so could inadvertently stunt Liverpool’s flow and reduce our chances of putting United to the sword.

It is vital that Klopp finds the right balance in this sense.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 04/03/2018

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Liverpool vs Newcastle : Preview

Reds Seek to Maintain Recent Momentum

Liverpool head into this weekend’s fixture in red-hot form and will be hoping that their recent goal rush continues.

Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle are also in decent form however, and are unbeaten in their previous four games. They’ve only lost twice in their last 10 with those defeats coming against Manchester City and Chelsea.

The Reds are chasing a top-four finish, but The Magpies have the burning motivation of a relegation battle and have proven to be a tough team to beat, despite finding wins hard to come by.

Liverpool

Team News and Predicted Lineup

livvsnew

Jurgen Klopp all but confirmed earlier in the week that he intends on fielding his strongest XI from now until the end of the season, so there should be little in the way of rotation.

On top of that, Danny Ings and Gini Wijnaldum are ill, and Nathaniel Clyne is highly unlikely to return despite playing 90 mins for the u23s earlier in the week.

Jordan Henderson could return after a niggling injury saw him miss the last couple of games, but if not, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will retain his place and Emre Can will shift back to the holding role.

Newcastle

Team News and Predicted Lineup

new

Newcastle will miss Islam Slimani through a thigh injury, and Aleksander Mitrovic will probably not return in time for the trip to Anfield.

Dwight Gayle and Jonjo Shelvey are also slight doubts with a hamstring strain and a knee problem respectively, but they should be fit to start by kick-off.

The remaining players more or less pick themselves, partly due to form, and partly because Newcastle’s squad depth is far from their greatest strength.

Analysis

Liverpool face a similar, but arguably more difficult task as they did last week due to Benitez’s defence being far more compact and organised than David Moyes’.

The first half against West Ham was tightly contested, but in the second The Reds were able to blitz their opponents and completely blow them out of the water as they have done to so many teams at Anfield this season.

The simple analysis is that Liverpool have to keep doing what they’ve been doing; defending intelligently and attacking ruthlessly.

Newcastle’s approach will also be a predictable and simple one. They will attempt to achieve a repeat of the performance and result against Manchester United by being dogged in defence and efficient in attack.

Salah will be bear the brunt of the responsibility in attack as neither Florian Lejeune nor Paul Dummett are capable of keeping up with his pace.

Ultimately though, the entire team will have to be on their game to break down a stubborn defence and force them into making the same mistakes that West Ham did.

The weather could also play a factor depending on how heavily the snow continues to fall in Liverpool. If it continues the way it has been then it could severely stunt Liverpool’s attacking outlets by slowing down the flow of play.

Prediction

This is going to be another important test for Liverpool, as they mustn’t give the teams around them hope by dropping points.

Newcastle will be difficult to break down in the snow, but if Liverpool are ahead by the second half, then The Reds should be able to overrun The Geordies.

Liverpool will head into the midweek return game against Porto having defeated Newcastle 2-0.

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone

 

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – 04/03/2018.

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