Stoke City 3 – 5 Liverpool


Goals galore at the Britannia in a 5-3 thriller that proved to be a very physical battle from the start.

And from that start is where Liverpool prospered just five minutes in. Defender Aly Cissokho from just outside the arc of the penalty area tried a shot that looked to be well wide, but it met with the torso of Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross.

Liverpool doubled their lead with a controlled finesse shot from the right side of the goal. Who else, but the league’s leading goal scorer, Luis Suarez.

But less than ten minutes later stoke would answer to Liverpool’s top scorer with an ex-Liverpool scorer. Peter Crouch catches the away defence off guard and the big man scores to make the score 2-1 Liverpool.

Five minutes later it was another former red in Charlie Adam who would tie up the game. A small slip allowed Charlie Adam perfect positioning behind the football and just 20 yards out which is when Adam pulled his left leg back and scored a laser into the right side of the goal making it 2-2. Four minutes of stoppage time after that and both teams went level into the dressing room, Stoke certainly the happier of the two.

Controversy just five minutes into the second half when 18 year old Raheem Sterling went to ground with what seemed to look like a soft challenge. Nevertheless the penalty was given to Liverpool and it was captain Steven Gerrard who stepped up and coolly slotted home the pen into the bottom right corner for the 3-2 lead.

Cards were prevalent mid-way through the second half, the first going to Liverpool defender Aly Cissokho after clattering face to face with a Stoke winger.

Five minutes later Stoke would share the bookings as well after Ryan Shawcross dished out some harsh defending Luis Suarez in the midfield.

The SAS made its return as Daniel Sturridge was swapped on for young Brazilian Philippe Coutinho in the 65th minute. Bringing on Sturridge proved to be a smart move for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers when in the 70th minute Luis Suarez scored another one of his classic after a spot on pass from Daniel Sturridge.

Stoke made a swap four minutes after the goal as Steven N’Zonzi replaced Stephen Ireland and it had its benefits as well when the 84th minute came and Jonathon Walters scored what looked to be an easy save for Simon Mignolet making the score 3-4 to Liverpool with just minutes remaining on the clock.

But it was too little too late and the English half of the SAS would drive that point home in the 87th minute when he forced in a previously saved effort from goalkeeper Jack Butland who made his first Premier League appearance for Stoke.

Referee Anthony Taylor blew the whistle after 95 minutes of thrilling football at the Britannia with the final score Stoke 3, Liverpool 5.

Liverpool will head home and host Aston Villa on the 18th and travel to either Bournemouth or Burton Albion on the 25th for their FA Cup tie and just three days after that Anfield will be rocking when rivals and family members Everton will make the annual visit for what could be a potential top four deciding match.

Moses going nowhere


Brendan Rodgers has refuted suggestions of a dispute with Chelsea over the loan signing of Victor Moses and says that the winger will not be heading back to Stamford Bridge.

Reports have been rife this week that the Nigerian international had disappointed the Anfield coaching staff and would be sent back to Chelsea – who were said to be angered over his lack of playing time this season.

Moses has been accused of being uninterested and lacking in desire by Liverpool supporters this season. He still has half a season left on the terms of his temporary move.

mosesRodgers has denied the rumours and says that he is happy to keep the player at Anfield.

“I was surprised to see that report. I have regular dialogue with Chelsea. I saw Eddie Newton before the game.

“We speak regularly on Victor’s development. Victor’s talent hasn’t gone away, he’s very happy here.”

Moses has failed to make much of an impact so far this season in his fifteen appearances for the club, with just one goal – which came in his debut against Swansea City back in September.

“Of course, he wants to play more, but he’s learning, like he has at Chelsea, the demands of being at a big club.

“I’m delighted to have him here and I’m sure over the course of his time here he’ll show the talent that he is.”

Suarez aiming for top four spot


Luis Suarez has back his team to qualify for next season’s Champions League by finishing in the top four this season.

suarezThe Uruguay striker believes that a continuation of the good form that the team has shown this season would see them recapture a place in the European Cup for the first time since 2009/10.

Brendan Rodgers’ side were sitting pretty at the summit of the Premiership table on Christmas Day but went on to suffer consecutive defeats away at Manchester City and Chelsea, both controversial 2-1 losses, but Suarez is confident.

“If Liverpool continue at this level, we can finish in the top four, which we want,” Suarez told Sky Sports News.

“On the pitch I try to help Liverpool and I try to help the squad, and I think for confidence it is very good.”

Suarez was this week awarded with the prize of player of the month for December and he is grateful to receive recognition for his excellent form.

“It’s so important when you work hard on the pitch and they recognise it when you win these prizes.”

Rodgers has no regrets over ref


Brendan Rodgers has said that he has no regrets over speaking out over referee Lee Mason after the controversial 2-1 defeat at Manchester City last month.

rodgersThe Northern Irishman was charged by the FA and subsequently fined £8000 for criticising the logic in appointing an official from the Greater Manchester area, Bolton specifically, to oversee a game involving a local side.

“My view hasn’t changed. I obviously accept the punishment but I’m not one who is the enemy to the officials,” he said.

“My history will show that, I have always supported and encouraged them.

“I was disappointed after the game, disappointed with the outcome (the fine) considering my history but all I was doing was speaking honestly and in no way was I questioning the integrity of the referee.

“I was just talking about the logic and facts about other appointments would prove that true I am sure.

“But it is gone. The only reason I never challenged it was because I didn’t want anything getting in the way of what we are trying to do here.

“It would just prolong it and be something else to talk about when all I want is for us to talk about is our football.”

Reds suffer Agger injury blow


aggerDaniel Agger has been diagnosed with a calf strain after limping out of Sunday’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Oldham Athletic at Anfield.

Subsequent scans have shown up the strain, but it remains unclear how long he will be out for. He will miss Sunday’s trip to face Stoke City though.

“The centre-back limped out of the clash with just under 10 minutes remaining at Anfield, and scans conducted on Tuesday confirmed he suffered a calf strain.” a club statement said.

“Agger will now undergo further assessment by the club’s medical staff to determine the extent of the problem.”

The news will come as a big blow to Brendan Rodgers, who has seen injuries to Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique, Joe Allen, Jon Flanagan and Daniel Sturridge limit his options so far this season.

Assaidi would like to face Reds


assaidiMoroccan winger Oussama Assaidi is disappointed he will not get to show Brendan Rodgers what he is missing on Sunday when his loan side Stoke City face Liverpool.

He was allowed to join the Potters on loan last Summer after failing to make an impact at Anfield last season and has become a regular for Mark Hughes’ side.

He has shown what he is capable of recent weeks with impressive strikes against Chelsea, Newcastle United and Everton.

But the 25 year old will not be able to play against the Reds under the terms of his loan agreement with Stoke.

“I would love to be involved in the game, but through rules and regulations that isn’t possible unfortunately.” Assaidi said.

“There is nothing I can do about it, apart from sit on the sidelines and cheer my team-mates on, which is what I will be doing on Sunday.

“I want Stoke City to win the game of course, because this is where I am playing my football at the moment, and for as long as I am here I will want us to win every game we play.

“We have started the year well – maybe we are still disappointed not to have won the game against Everton, but a point wasn’t bad.”

Rodgers accepts FA charge


RodgersThe FA have confirmed that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has accepted their charge over his comments regarding referee Lee Mason in the wake of the 2-1 defeat at Manchester City in December.

The Reds boss claimed the performance of the officials in the Reds’ loss at Manchester City on Boxing Day was “horrendous” and also questioned why a Greater Manchester referee, Mason is from Bolton, was installed as referee for the fixture.

It now seems likely that Rodgers will face a fine.

Suarez is “like a dirty street rat”


Oldham manager Lee Johnson says Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is “like a dirty street rat”.

“He’s like a dirty street rat, and I mean that in the best possible way.” the Oldham manager said ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie at Anfield.

suarez“He’s sharp and horrible – all that is in admiration for him, because he’s a winner. He has that desire to be better today than he was yesterday.”

The Oldham boss recalls his first meeting with the Uruguay international, in a friendly for former club Bristol City against Suarez’s previous side, Ajax.

“I played against Suarez for Bristol City and I failed miserably – he scored. I remember asking, ‘Who was that lad up front?’ He wasn’t well known then. I was like, ‘Who on Earth is that?’ I was meant to stop the ball up to him but you just can’t. Sometimes players are just too good,” he said.

“Having a world class player like him play against Oldham, is the equivalent of me playing in a fans’ game. Someone can say, ‘Mark him,’ but if I move one way, I’ve got a yard.”

Oldham knocked Liverpool out of the cup a year ago and the Reds will be keen on exacting revenge on home turf.

Liverpool 2 – 0 Hull City


Liverpool made sure they started 2014 with a victory as they saw off Hull City at Anfield to put the disappointment of the Chelsea and Manchester City results behind them.

Aly Cissokho and Iago Aspas were both named in the starting XI by Brendan Rodgers, replacing Joe Allen and Mamadou Sakho – who both picked up injuries in the Stamford Bridge clash. Steven Gerrard was named amongst the substitutes as the skipper returns from injury.

The game started slowly with neither side able to find their rhythm initially, but as the first half proceeded Liverpool started to rise into the ascendency.

They thought they had found the opening goal in the 19th minute when Luis Suarez headed home from Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick, but the referee’s assistant ruled the goal out for offside – a decision which replays showed to be correct.

Although the goal didn’t stand, getting the ball in the back of the net seemed to increase the home side’s confidence, as they produced some good football to keep their opponents on the back foot.

It appeared only a matter of time before the Reds did take the lead, and the breakthrough came in the 37th minute. Daniel Agger met Coutinho’s corner with a powerful header which sent the Hull defence scrambling and ultimately ended up in the back of the net.

Liverpool dominated the rest of the opening 45 minutes, and should have really gone into the break with more than a one goal lead, but Jordan Henderson and Coutinho both missed good chances to increase the advantage.

Home fans didn’t have to wait long after the restart before a two-goal cushion was ensured though. With five minutes of the second half gone the Reds won a free-kick on the edge of the box, and Suarez stepped up to expertly bend the ball into the top-left corner of Allan McGregor’s goal.

With around 30 minutes left to play, Hull manager Steve Bruce opted to use all three of his available substitutions at the same time to try and turn the game in his side’s favour. His counterpart Rodgers responded by introducing Gerrard, which ensured his side remained in control.

With the exception of one late flurry of activity from the visitors, the game played out with only one side looking likely to score – though Liverpool were unable to add to their tally.

The final whistle confirmed the scoreline at 2-0, and as results from elsewhere filtered in it was confirmed that Liverpool moved back into the top four of the Premier League table.

Rodgers looking for home advantage


Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes that home form will be key to his side maintaining their form into the second half of the season and mounting a title bid.

west ham hLiverpool have visited Everton, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Chelsea already this season and have taken just four points from those trips. But they face all of these sides at Anfield in the second half of the season, where they have beaten most visitors – including Manchester United.

Despite being top of the table on Christmas Day, Rodgers’ side have dropped out of the top four after successive defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea in the past few days.

But the Northern Irishman has not ruled his side out of the title race and feels Liverpool’s home matches will prove crucial.

“I think it’s open,” he said.

“What I’m looking forward to is we have to play every team except Manchester United at home.

“We’ve had a real tough run, all the games – Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Newcastle, Everton – all of them away from home.

“Anfield’s a tough place to come, we have to play all of them at home, it’s still very much open. We were top at Christmas, a few days later we’re fifth, that’s how it will go between now and the end of the season.”

His side have 36 points from 19 league fixtures, which is the best return the club has seen since the 2008/9 season where Rafa Benitez’s side agonisingly lost on the title to Manchester United by four points.