Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Liverpool v Fulham Match Preview

Liverpool will face Fulham tomorrow night at Anfield still fresh from their 3-0 win over Wolves last Sunday.

The Reds’ long awaited win and the return of captain Steven Gerrard will boost the team against Mark Hughes’ side.
Fulham have also won their last league game against Stoke, but they not been able to secure a win at Anfield in their last 29 meetings there.

Manager Mark Hughes will be without defenders Matthew Briggs and Philippe Senderos due to injury, as well as Bobby Zamora out with a broken leg. Dickson Etuhu and Aaron Hughes will be assessed prior to the game after picking up injuries against Stoke last Saturday.

Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is still on international duty for Australia, putting David Stockdale in goal.

Liverpool are only without defender and co-captain Jamie Carragher, due to a shoulder injury.

A win for Fulham will put them at the same amount of points on the Premier League table at 29 while a win for Liverpool will see them take a major jump in the table to 7th.

Kick-off is at 8pm and will be broadcasted live on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Wolves v Liverpool Match Report

Kenny Dalglish saw his side win for the first time since taking over the manager position against Wolverhampton.

Liverpool secured a 3-0 win against the Wolves yesterday afternoon away at the Molineux Stadium. IT was even done without their captain Steven Gerrard who served the last of this three-match ban.

Fernando Torres opened the scoring 36 minutes in, when midfielder Raul Meireles’ unselfishly passed the ball to the striker for a sure goal.

The second goal came five minutes after halftime from Meireles himself. The midfielder was 25 yards out when he volleyed the ball over Wolves defender Wayne Hennessey into the corner of the net beautifully.

Soon after though, Liverpool’s defence seemed to break down a bit, giving the Wolves their best chance of the game to score. Steven Fletcher’s deflected shot went into the hands of keeper Pepe Reina, failing to secure a much needed goal for the Wolves.

Former Liverpool youngster Adam Hammill made his debut for Wolverhampton in the 73rd minute. Hammill was able to make his presence known on the pitch with a few impressive crosses but failed to connect with fellow teammates to make anything of it.

Liverpool’s third and final goal came again from Torres in extra time. He was left unmarked when the ball bounced right to him, allowing him to safely put it in the back of the net to make it three for the Reds.

The much-needed win moved Liverpool up three places to 10th on the Premier League table with 29 points. Wolverhampton are still sitting in the relegation zone in 19th.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Liverpool v Everton Match Report

The 215th Merseyside Derby which took place at Anfield yesterday afternoon ended in a 2-2 draw.

The draw was not wanted by either side, as both Liverpool and Everton are only four points above the relegation zone and were desperate for the full three points.

The spirits amongst the Reds fans were higher than ever this season, as Kenny Dalglish stepped onto the pitch at Anfield for the first time since returning as manager.

However, his start has been less than what he had hoped for, losing to Manchester United and Blackpool last week and now managing only a draw to the neighbouring Blues.

Liverpool were without Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, leaving the captaincy in the place of keeper Pepe Reina.

The match started out intensely as Reds striker Fernando Torres made his first effort only after nine second, shooting the ball right into Everton keeper Tim Howard’s hands.

In the 28th minute, Liverpool opened the scoring with midfielder’s Raul Miereles’ power shot 18 yards out going past Howard, making his first goal for the Reds.

Just moments after the second half started though, Everton produced their first goal of the night. A corner for the Blues allowed Sylvain Distin to head it in the back of the net.

Only minutes later did Everton’s second goal come, this time from Jermaine Beckford, shooting at close range past helpless Pepe Reina.

Tim Howard gave a penalty away after he tripped up Maxi Rodriguez in an effort to stop the Argentinean from scoring. This did not help however as Dirk Kuyt took the penalty shot and made it 2-2.

In the last moments of the game, both teams went into attacking mode, but nothing became of it and the game ended in a draw.

Kenny Dalglish said of the derby to the Liverpool Echo: “I think we were a wee bit unfortunate to come in at half-time only 1-0 up. Then they got two quick goals but then we showed a real desire and determination to get back into the game.”

Both teams are at only 26 points on the Premier League table, with Everton ahead at 12th place on goal difference.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Liverpool v Everton Match Preview

The second Merseyside Derby of the season will take place at Anfield tomorrow afternoon.

It is not just the proximity of the clubs that makes the Merseyside Derby great. There is a history between the two clubs since Everton, who were originally at Anfield, split in 1892 and Liverpool Football Club was formed.

It will be the first home game for Reds’ manager Kenny Dalglish since his return to the position. So far, his comeback has not been ideal, with Liverpool losing their last two games to Manchester United and Blackpool.

If Everton are to win against Liverpool on Sunday, it will be their first double win against their city rivals since the 1984/85 season.

The Blues will definitely be entering Anfield with their heads held high following their 5-1 domination over Scunthorpe in the third round of the FA Cup last Sunday.
Liverpool are currently suffering on the league table, being in 13th place and winning only once in their last five Premier League matches. A win at Anfield is much needed and to have it over their Blue rivals would surely lift the spirits of the team and the fans.

They will be without their captain Steven Gerrard, who will be serving the second match out in his three match ban, and co-captain Jamie Carragher, still out after shoulder surgery.

Joe Cole is hopeful to make his return from an ankle injury.

Everton will also be fighting at the derby without Tim Cahill, who is representing Australia in the Asian Cup. Phil Jagielka is out with a thigh injury as well.

Steven Pienaar is expected to play, despite the likeliness of his departure from the club soon.

Kick-off is at 2:05pm and will be shown live on Sky Sports 1.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Manchester United v Liverpool Match Report

Newly appointed Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish may have lost his first game at Old Trafford this afternoon, but he has nothing to be too disappointed about.

Although the Reds lost 1-0 to Manchester United, they have a lot to be proud of showing an improved form from the last few weeks.

The only goal of the match came from a controversial penalty given by referee Howard Webb only 35 seconds into the game.

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger put his hands on Manchester’s Dimitar Berbatov. Although there was a moment between the contact and the fall, a penalty was given.

Ryan Giggs took the shot and put it past Pepe Reina’s left to make it 1-0 in the second minute.

In the 32nd minute, the Reds lost their captain to a bad challenge on Michael Carrick.

Gerrard committed a two-footed tackle against the Manchester midfielder, resulting in a red card and immediate send off, bringing the Reds down to ten men.

Kenny Dalglish subbed Raul Meireles and Maxi Rodriguez with Jonjo Shelvey and Ryan Babel 59 minutes in.

Forward Fernando Torres was also subbed in the 76th minute with David Ngog. The subs were more than likely due to Liverpool’s upcoming midweek game against Blackpool and a desire to improve in the league rather than the FA Cup.

Liverpool failed to secure a draw, sending Manchester to play Southampton in the fourth round.

Although they will now be without their captain for the next three games, the Reds will surely put this loss behind them and look ahead to the rest of their season under their new manager.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Manchester United v Liverpool Match Preview

Liverpool fans will be hoping to see a revival in their team tomorrow at Old Trafford for the 3rd round of the FA Cup against Manchester United.

The Reds will have their first game under newly appointed manager Kenny Dalglish, who was announced today to take over the reins until the end of the season following Roy Hodgson’s departure.

Meanwhile, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has made suggestions that he will produce a strong team tomorrow against their biggest rivals.

John O’Shea and Paul Scholes will definitely be out with injury. Wayne Rooney and Edwin Van Der Sar will be assessed ahead of the match following an ankle injury and case of the flu, respectively.

Liverpool have no new injuries, but are still without co-captain Jamie Carragher, still recovering from shoulder surgery.

Between the two major clubs, the FA Cup has been won 18 times. However after last year’s surprise early knock out by Leeds United, Manchester United are out to prove themselves again, especially over Liverpool.

The meeting is the only all-Premier League match of the FA Cup. The last time the sides met in the competition was in 2006, when Liverpool beat Manchester United in the fifth round.

Kick-off is at 1.30pm and will be shown live on ITV1.

Roy Hodgson leaves Liverpool FC

Roy Hodgson has left his managerial position at Liverpool FC this morning through mutual consent with the new owners.

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish has taken over the position until the end of the season.

Hodgson was appointed manager of the club on 1st July 2010 on a three-year contract under the club’s previous ownership, replacing Rafael Benitez.

During that summer transfer window, he brought in players such as Milan Jovanovic, Paul Konchesky and Christian Poulsen. He came under scrutiny almost immediately following some of his transfers.

The criticism did not seem to stop after the first half of the season had fans’ scratching their heads in wonder over some of Hodgson’s tactics on the pitch.

Liverpool suffered major defeats over teams such as Everton and Manchester United, as well as humiliating ones to Northampton, Wolverhampton and Blackburn.

In six months, Hodgson’s team only managed 13 wins and nine losses in 31 games, with away form at its worst in years.

Although he has an impressive history, he usually dealt with mid-table clubs. Before Liverpool, he was manager of Fulham and had even managed to take them all the way to the Europa League finals where they lost to Atletico Madrid.

Roy Hodgson said today of his departure on the official club website:” I am very sad not to have been able to put my stamp on the squad, to be given the time to bring new players into the club in this transfer window and to have been able to be part of the rebuilding process at Liverpool. The club has some great, world-class players, with whom it has been a pleasure to work and I wish the entire squad well for the rest of the season.”

Liverpool owner John Henry added: "We are delighted that Kenny Dalglish has agreed to step in and manage the team for Sunday's FA Cup tie at Old Trafford and for the remainder of the season.”

Players such as Ryan Babel took to their twitter accounts to acknowledge the change, tweeting: “King” and ex-Red Xabi Alonso also tweeted: “Good luck King Kenny.”

Kenny Dalglish is Liverpool’s third most successful manager in its history but will definitely be feeling the pressure after the first half of the season sees Liverpool currently in the 12th position on the Barclay’s Premier League table.

Nonetheless, fans have already expressed their excitement to seeing King Kenny back on the sidelines tomorrow at Old Trafford for the FA Cup 3rd Round against Manchester United.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Blackburn v Liverpool Match Report

Liverpool seemed to have the fight taken out of them last night as they suffered a horrific 3-1 defeat against Blackburn at Ewood Park last night.

Even though Roy Hodgson ended up putting Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard in the starting lineup, unlike he previously stated, it was not enough as the team failed to connect.

The agony for the Reds started in the 32nd minute when the Rovers’ Olsson easily made it past Liverpool’s defence and stunned keeper Pepe Reina.

The second goal for Blackburn came only minutes later. Striker Benjani took a power shot giving Reina no chance as it flew into the back of the net.

Liverpool’s response was right before the half time whistle when Skrtel hit the ball too high over the bar from a Gerrard corner.

Liverpool utilized their first sub defender Daniel Agger on for Kyrgiakos just after halftime. Two minutes later, the Reds’ finally took some charge but an effort from Joe Cole was fruitless as the ball went right into the hands of Blackburn keeper Bunn.

Four minutes later though, Blackburn’s Benjani scored his second goal, 3rd for the night for Blackburn, being set up but Hoilett who made it past a messy Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson.

Hodgson subbed Maxi Rodriguez for Dirk Kuyt right after, but it was too little too late.

The best chance up to that point for the Reds was 66 minutes in when Joe Cole put the ball in Torres’ path, only for him to kick it over the goal.

Less than ten minutes left in the match, a ball from Torres bounced off of Rovers’ Nelson and at the feet of Gerrard, who then put it in the back of the net, giving Liverpool their only goal of the night.

However, they did have a second chance when a penalty was given to Liverpool after Salgado fouled Gerrard in the box. Gerrard uncharacteristically put it over the bar, failing to grab that second goal.

Roy Hodgson said in his post-match interview: “If you are Liverpool and lose to Blackburn, there is nothing that can be said to put a positive slant on things.”
Hodgson’s future, already in doubt after a bad start to the season, has come under heavy fire now after the defeat at Ewood Park.

“It has been a really bad day for me and there is not much I can add other than to assure the fans that their depression is being felt in the dressing room,” he continued. “I don’t intend answering any questions about my position, so that’s it.”

Is a New Anfield the answer?

In 1884, Anfield stadium was opened in Liverpool. Eight years later, that stadium became the home of Liverpool Football Club.

Anfield, from between 1903-1906
For the last 119 years, the Reds of Merseyside still call the historic place their home. However, this could all end.

For nearly a decade now, Liverpool have considered demolishing the historic ground and moving their home across the street to Stanley Park to allow an expansion in seating.

The current Anfield was originally rented by Everton until 1892 when an argument over rent caused a rift in the club, splitting it into two: Everton and the newly formed Liverpool Football Club. Everton found a new home at Goodison Park while Liverpool stayed at the original home, situated between Anfield and Walton Breck Road.

Early Main Stand
 Although there have been several structural changes through the years, including changing the stadium to all-seated only rather than standing following the tragedy at Hillsborough in 1989, the feeling and history around Anfield is still the same.

The stadium has a capacity of 45,362. In addition to football matches, Anfield also hosts the LFC museum, a club store and more recently, a restaurant situated behind the Kop stand. There are several hospitality suites and meeting rooms that can be used at any time, not just during game time.

Anfield currently sits across the road from Stanley Park.

Anfield is currently only has a 4-star rating from UEFA. Because the capacity is lower than 50,000, then the stadium cannot be considered for hosting major football events. The pitch side accommodation for teams is considered inadequate.

A new Anfield at Stanley Park would boost seating capacity to 60,000. It also allows a chance for more businesses to be erected in the old area, including food and drink establishments and a hotel.

It could also prove beneficial to Liverpool as a city, as it prides itself on its sporting history, and the football clubs are considered to be some of the major tourist destinations. The potential of bringing in 15,000 more people into the city for games could have a great economic effect on the city in the long run.

Proposed design of New Anfield
 But would a move to a Grade II listed Historic Park be the right thing?

While Stanley Park has meant to provide a serene escape from busy life, it has gone downhill in recent years due to anti-social behaviour and vandalism. An increase of match goers could possibly contribute to even bigger increase in crime, litter, noise and light pollution in the park and the neighbouring historic Anfield Cemetery.

Groups such as Friends of Stanley Park are heavily opposed to the new stadium, citing that park goers will be reluctant to visit on match days and with more vehicle traffic, there is a serious risk to the serenity of the park. They also claim that the proposal of the move includes nothing about helping the park at all.

Residents living in the area expressed that the city has no right to sell a park that belongs to the people of Liverpool and that no other business would be allowed to operate within it, so Liverpool Football Club should be no exception. Also an increase of 15,000 fans is only going to contribute more to the suffering the residents already go through on match days.

Information and petitions on the potential detriment to the park and surrounding area have been available to residents. This includes websites such as “Save Our Stanley Park” and “Our Ground.”

Alternative sites have also been suggested by the council. The most sustainable area suggested is Speke Boulevard.

The area is large enough to accommodate such a magnificent structure. There is good access to the area by car or public transport. The residential area is a considerable distance away.

However this arguably takes away the historic spirit even more so than moving to Stanley Park would.

One of several proposed groundshare designs
 Another recent suggestion is a groundshare with Everton Football Club, who are also in need of a new stadium.

Although this idea is quickly dismissed by fans of both teams, some officials say in today’s economic times, the thought is not too crazy.

It is also suggested to keep the current Anfield. It has been restructured in the past to add a tier in the Centenery Stand, so it is believed that the whole stadium could undergo a similar revamp to provide more seating. The offices and other areas situated inside the stadium could also be redesigned to provide sufficient areas for staff and visitor. It is also said to save a lot of money, rather than creating a whole new 60,000 seater stadium at a new location.

Ex-Liverpool owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks promised a new stadium since council approved the plan in 2006, but angered Reds’ fans all over the world when they failed to deliver their promise and instead, put the club into debt. As of October 2010, Liverpool acquired new owners from America who fans are hoping will bring a new stadium. Although nothing has been said yet exactly about the future of Anfield, the owners have made it aware they are considering all options before acting.

Even with council's approval, Liverpool may not know right away the fate of Anfield, especially with the only recent transition of owners and managers, but fans have made it very clear they will not settle for how things are now for much longer.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Blackburn v Liverpool Match Preview

Reds’ midfielder Joe Cole scored a last minute winner against Bolton last Saturday, possibly sparking a revival in Liverpool’s less than stellar season.

The win could not have come at a better time for Roy Hodgson, whose Liverpool managerial career could be on the line.

Although the Reds’ away form has been poor, they need nothing but a win at Ewood Park tomorrow night against the Blackburn Rovers.

However, Blackburn suffer against Liverpool, winning only once against them in their last 20 meetings.

The last time the two sides met, Liverpool won 2-1 over the Rovers at Anfield with goals from Fernando Torres and Sotorios Kyrgiakos.

New Rovers’ boss Steve Kearn is looking for his first home win since taking over the position from Sam Allardyce last month.

Although Reds’ striker Fernando Torres and captain Steven Gerrard played vital roles in their win over Bolton on New Year’s Day, Roy Hodgson admitted that they may be rested Wednesday ahead of a busy January schedule.

Liverpool could play up to nine times this month due to the FA Cup starting and making up December’s postponed matches.

Blackburn will be without key players, but mainly due to injury. This includes the likes of Grant Hanley, Chris Samba and Vince Grella, who was hoping to make his comeback but suffered an Achilles flareup during training.

Winger Brett Emerton is also out while representing Australia in the Asian Cup.

Kick-off is at 8:00pm.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Our history's in his hands: LFC museum curator Stephen Done

“Bill Shankly said: ‘First is first. Second is nothing.’ ”

These are the words Stephen Done used to describe his desire to become Liverpool Football Club’s first curator for their museum at Anfield.

“I went there with that in my mind,” he said. “I have no interest in doing well. I want the job. Fact. I want to win. I want this job. Nothing else will do.”

Thirteen years later, Stephen can say that those words from Liverpool great Bill Shankly helped him achieve his goal.

For a man who has always loved history and became a Liverpool fan in his childhood, stumbling upon this dream job was luck at its best.
“I don’t know how I saw it, by pure luck. Liverpool were opening a museum and needed a curator. I was too over qualified but I don’t care. It’s Liverpool Football Club.”

Curator Stephen Done (right) shows new LFC
owner John Henry around the museum.

Stephen lived in other parts of the United Kingdom in his childhood, but was a Liverpool fan since watching the 1971 Cup Final against Arsenal. Even though Liverpool lost that year, he knew he had become a fan from that point on and the next year, they won the league.

“It’s strange,” he explains. “It almost feels like I have come home.”

As the curator, Stephen oversees the maintenance of the displays and as well as archiving an endless amount of photographs from the past and present. For a club that prides itself on it's successful past, the job comes very highly regarded.

The museum hosts a wide range of artifacts, dating back to when the club was first formed in 1892. One of these items from the 19th century is a favourite of the curator.

“It’s a very unremarkable old thing: a sheet of paper that formally recognizes the birth of Liverpool football club in 1892. It’s not a very romantic or exciting looking object, but without that, there is no Liverpool Football Club.”

Next to the document is a tiny medal won in 1893 by the Liverpool Reserves. It was the first medal ever won by the club in their first season in existence.

Other favourites of the curator include Roger Hunt’s 1966 World Cup winner’s medal, current co-captain Jamie Caragher’s medals and of course the 2005 Champion’s League trophy.

With the future of Anfield in the air, whether it is to expand or move to Stanley Park, questions are arising about the future of the museum too. Stephen would like to see a new design that would connect the old with the new rather than the current timeline.

“There is a natural tendancy, younger kids in particular, to want the new stuff. They’re not interested in the old stuff.”

With so many angles including the league, Anfield, FA Cup, fans and so on, Stephen explains that the blending together of the old and the new with these themes in mind shows one great amazing history.

“It also allows you to skip past dull years,” he adds. “Just because we haven’t won anything for a few years doesn’t mean we have become a boring or rubbish club. The black and white photos are just old and boring. They become more real then.”

One thing is for certain: the museum is a popular destination for Liverpool fans worldwide all year round, even when no football is playing, and it will continue to be as long as Liverpool Football Club is in existence.

With so many artifacts in storage still waiting to be displayed and shared with fans young and old, Stephen Done will not be giving up this dream job anytime soon.

“I look after the 2005 Champions League trophy. Tell me how it can get better than that?”

Liverpool v Bolton Match Report

Midfielder Joe Cole scored the last minute winner for Liverpool over Bolton last night making it 2-1 to secure three points for the Reds.

Liverpool found themselves down one right before halftime, when Bolton midfielder Kevin Davies scored from a header.

Reds’ midfielder Lucas somehow failed to equalise soon after, missing the goal from only six yards out and while being unmarked.

The halftime whistle could not seem to come fast enough. Liverpool needed an obvious break after Fernando Torres put his hand in the face of Bolton’s Cahill, who was then fouled by Lucas right after.

Fans also showed their frustration at halftime when boos rang out from around Anfield.

However the attitudes changed in the few minutes after halftime when a pass from Steven Gerrard assisted Torres in ending his goal drought and equalising 1-1.

The second half continued to see the Reds’ rejuvenated and livelier than a sloppy first half.

In the 82nd minute, Joe Cole came on to replace forward David Ngog.

The substitution proved to be vital as he made it 2-1 two minutes into injury time.

The winner could not have come at a better time for Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson, whose job could be on the line after a disappointing first half to the season.

Despite the win, Liverpool are still four points below Bolton and sitting on the Premier League table at 9th place.