Liverpool draw Zenit in Europa League

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Liverpool face another trip to Russia as they have been drawn against Zenit St. Petersburg in the Europa League.


The Reds will face the winner of Basel v Dnipro should they proceed against the Russian champions._64881097_liverpoolsupporters[1]
The draw in full:

Napoli v Viktoria Plzen

Tottenham Hotspur v Lyon

Borussia Monchengladbach v Lazio

Sparta Prague v Chelsea

Anzhi v Hannover

FC Basel v Dnipro

Ajax v Steaua Bucharest


Atletico Madrid v Rubin Kazan

VfB Stuttgart v Genk

Newcastle United v Metalist Kharkiv

Bayer Leverkusen v Benfica

Dynamo Kiev v Bordeaux

Zenit St Petersburg v Liverpool

Levante v Olympiakos

Inter Milan v CFR Cluj

BATE Borisov v Fenerbahce

 


Champions League- A distant dream this year?

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steven-gerrard-istanbul-460-55126245-3255919[1]Last week I recall there was huge optimism that we would be a top four side after an unbeaten run, this quickly changed – a poor performance and a defeat and we are a poor side with questions asked of us? This is why I prefer to look at performance over a 10 game period.

I am not one to judge after a couple of games and believe manager’s should be given time to build their own side and implement their own style. Having a revolving door of players and manager’s holds no stability for any football club even the clubs with unlimited funds. When as a club we clearly don’t have unlimited funds and appear to be on a cut costing measure to trim our budgets but also be competitive. So we have almost reached the half way stage of the season we have played 17 out of 19 teams in the league just QPR and Fulham to complete the set.

I have done a quick comparison at to look at where we were in each of the last three seasons as feel we have had a serious of changes and upheaval during this period:-

12/13- from 17 games 5 wins, 7 draws, 5 defeats,23 scored,23 conceded =22 points-12th position
11/12- from 17 games 8 wins, 6 draws, 3 defeats, 20 scored, 13 conceded=30 points-6th position
10/11- from 17 games 6 wins, 4 draws, 7 defeats, 21 scored, 22 conceded=22 points-9th position


These statistics tell us very little pessimists will point out we have won the least amount of games, conceded the most amount of goals and have the lowest amount of points. The optimists will point to the highest amount of goals scored and the improved easy on the eye football style.

First I look at our league position and for everybody connected with Liverpool FC this is so hurtful, some say it’s a false position? When I look at it we have only beaten West Ham and Norwich who are currently above us, drawing with Man City, Chelsea, Stoke, Everton and Swansea a total of 11 points. The teams were are above we have beaten Southampton, Wigan and Reading and drawn with Sunderland and Newcastle the same total of 11 points. Looking at these two totals if we can gain any points against the remaining two sides to play after Christmas we could be in a more promising position to challenge for Europe.

I will always stand by the factor we are very much a team in transition and although I would have like to point out that only a certain percentage of transfers will ever be successful in the game so a year down the line when we see the success of some of Brendan Rogers signings and the failings of others. As fans we are desperate to regain our Champions league status are to begin challenging for titles once again we have a big January looming where the squad simply must be strengthened and I imagine take time to bed in.

The last four years have shown 69, 68, 70 and 72 have been enough to secure champions league football so from 21 games we are looking at around 50 points which is surely far too much of an ask but can we finish higher than last season probably more of a realistic target.

Hillsborough verdicts overturned

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The original inquest verdicts of the Hillsborough disaster were today quashed by the High Court.

Following the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report in September, Attorney General Dominic Grieve had made the decision to appeal against the accidental death verdicts given in 1990.

The Independent Panel investigated thousands of previously unseen documents – revealing serious police misconduct and suggesting that up to 41 people could have survived had the emergency services reacted better.justicecourts-3712901[1]

New inquests will now be arranged to deliver fresh verdicts on the events of that fateful afternoon, which are expected to be held in Doncaster.

Ian Ayre, the club’s Managing Director, said: “On September 12, the world heard the real truth about what happened at Hillsborough which was a hugely significant and deeply emotional day for everyone.

“Today, the High Court has quashed the original inquest verdicts which is another positive step forward for the families and survivors in their search for justice.


“Everyone at Liverpool Football Club remains committed to supporting the fight for justice and we hope that every person affected by this can take some comfort from today’s announcement.”

A new enquiry has also been ordered into the actions of the emergency services on the day, led by former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “The findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel were truly shocking, but while the families have now been given the truth, they have not yet received justice.

“Jon Stoddart is a skilled and dedicated investigator who will bring a huge amount of policing experience to this demanding job.

“I am giving the IPCC new powers to investigate police misconduct, but this investigation will ensure nobody with responsibility for fan safety at Hillsborough will escape scrutiny.

“I am determined to see a swift and thorough response to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel to deliver justice for the 96 football fans who died and the families who have fought so hard on their behalf.”

Rodgers plans to rest Sterling & Allen

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Brendan Rodgers is planning to give midfielders Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen a rest after acknowledging that fatigue played a part in the defeat by Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday.

Sterling has earned rave reviews since breaking into the Liverpool first team but the winger is still only 18, and has featured in the majority of the Reds’ games this season.

Speaking to the official site, Rodgers said: “There is no doubt Raheem is one who does need that breather.0,,12637~11495198,00[1]

“I’ve thought about it over the past couple of weeks. In order to do that you need to have that depth to take him out and put somebody else in.

“That’s something I’m thinking about – who to put in. He’s a naturally very, very fit boy but he needs that mental rest as well.

“For the kid, it’s about efficiency as well. Tactically he’s still very young. That time will come and he will get the breather soon enough.”

Joe Allen is another who has featured heavily for the Reds this season, despite the 22-year-old still getting accustomed to life at Anfield following his move from Swansea in the summer.

“There is no doubt, after working with Joe and seeing him, he’s another one.” said Rodgers.

“If we’re honest, there are a few who could do with that breather, especially mentally. It’s something for sure I need to have a wee look at.”

West Ham 2 – 3 Liverpool

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Joe Allen and Jonjo Shelvey celebrate Liverpool's winning goal.
Joe Allen and Jonjo Shelvey celebrate Liverpool's winning goal.

West Ham were right to go into this match confident coming off their 3-1 home win against Chelsea, and now looking to topple Liverpool who are on a strong climb up the table and looking to break into the top half of the table since May 2012. Lee Probert was the official on the pitch for this affair at Upton Park.

Joe Allen and Jonjo Shelvey celebrate Liverpool's winning goal.
Joe Allen and Jonjo Shelvey celebrate Liverpool’s winning goal.

The first ten minutes of the match was a back and forth struggle of the counter attacks with promising finishes, but it wasn’t until the 11th minute that the ice was broken by ex-Hammer Glen Johnson.

Johnson made a run from the right wing to the top of the 18 yard box where he curled a beauty over Jussi Jääskeläinen’s head into the top left corner of the goal for his first goal of the season.

The relentless attack did not let up with attacking runs coming into the box from Johnson and shots raining down from Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling.

Very early action from the bench as Joe Cole was seen warming up and receiving instructions in the 25th minute for a peculiar 27th minute change for Full-Back Jose Enrique. Joe Cole has scored twice against West Ham in his previous days at Chelsea.

The substitution saw a revival for West Ham’s attack with crosses flying into the box and heavy pressure being applied to Liverpool’s defence with a box flooded full of claret and blue shirts.

A bit of respite was given to Liverpool when they managed to pressure West Ham in their own attacking area, but clever play led to a sharp counter attack that was thwarted by captain Steven Gerrard with a rash challenge from behind that earned him the first yellow card of the match in the 33rd minute.

The woes only got worse for Liverpool when a 37th minute penalty was given to West Ham after Joe Allen raised his right arm to deflect Mohamed Diamé. Mark Noble slotted the equalizing penalty into the lower left corner quick enough to outpace the correctly guessed dive of Pepe Reina.

It only got worse before the stroke of halftime. Matt Jarvis’ cross came screaming into the area and bounced the wrong way off the head of Steven Gerrard and behind the hands of Pepe Reina. Not much one can do about that. 2-1 to West Ham 43 minutes in. It was five minutes later that the whistle sounded for halftime.

West Ham made a change before play resumed when Guy Demel came off for George McCartney. But all eyes were on the visiting side to see how they would approach the second 45 minutes after their first half collapse.

Nothing changed in 35 minutes. The West Ham fans loud as ever, spurring their team on as the home side led 2-1. Liverpool showed a small bit of fight in the 70th minute before their second substitution was made when Jordan Henderson was sent out to replace the recently injured Lucas Leiva. Just moments after the substitution it was injury for Mohamed Diame that became shock as the Senegalese international collapsed on the right wing and clutched his hamstring right in front of corner flag. Diame was carried off the pitch in a stretcher and made way for 23 year old Olympian, James Tomkins.

So far this season, Liverpool have not scored in the last 15 minutes of a match, and that stat was snapped by the most unlikely of places. Joe Cole continued his scoring record against West Ham in the 76th minute when a beautiful through ball from Raheem Sterling gave Joe Cole space in front of the left goal post and Cole coolly slotted the ball in for the equalizer.

That wasn’t the end of the story when another former West Ham player, Jonjo Shelvey, had his say two minutes later. Shelvey had received a low cross from winger Jordan Henderson that Shelvey chipped up over keeper Jääskeläinen and watched it fall into the opposite side netting for the go ahead goal to make it 3-2 in the span of five minutes.

Modibo Maiga was the fifth switch of the match replacing Matt Taylor in the 85th minute. Simultaneously, Joe Allen was replaced by Uruguayan international Sebastian Coates.

Liverpool would play very defensively and very nervously up until the end of the match with Raheem Sterling nearly making it curtains with a dangerous solo counter attack in the 88th minute.

Much to the surprise and confusion of Brendan Rodgers, five minutes was the time added to the end of the 90 as “Justice for the 96” was chanted around Upton Park.

Massive controversy as Jonjo Shelvey was tripped in the area by defender Winston Reid who was in trouble a minute later for committing the same offense on the same man just outside the box.

After 96 minutes and 17 seconds the final whistle blew to send Liverpool Football Club into the top half of the table for the first time since May. What was certainly a roller coaster of emotions for both sides turned out to be an entertaining affair and certainly one to mark a highlight of the season.

With no European football to worry about until February, the focus is now on domestic competition as the next five matches will all be league matches starting with Aston Villa on Saturday, the 15th, and then a trip to Craven Cottage to face Fulham the Saturday after that.

Until then,
YNWA

Liverpool 1 – 3 Aston Villa

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By jpa90, 15-12-2012, 18:24:37

Two goals from Christian Benteke and a strike from Andreas Weimann ensured an away win for Aston Villa against Liverpool. Steven Gerrard scored late on for the home side but it was too little too late for Liverpool, despite having more than four times as many efforts on goal then the visitors.

Once again Liverpool maintained possession with ease from the first whistle. Villa were happy to let the home side retain the ball but were dangerous when they moved into attack. Martin Skrtel conceded an early free kick and Barry Bannan swung in a teasing cross. The free kick forced a save out of Pepe Reina when Benteke met the delivery with a powerful header.

Liverpool also had an early chance to open the scoring when Steven Gerrard charged into the box unmarked, only for Luis Suarez to play the ball just behind the skipper. Brad Guzan was able to make a routine save when Gerrard managed to get a shot away.

The Reds enjoyed the freedom to pass the ball around in midfield and Villa were left exposed at the back on several occasions within the first ten minutes. Baker gave the ball away on the edge of Villa’s penalty area and Suarez located Jonjo Shelvey in the centre. Shelvey wound up for a shot but was thwarted when Baker made amends from his earlier mistake with a last-ditch tackle.

Villa had not seen much of the ball in attack until Benteke received a pass 25-yards out and released a low shot. Reina saw the effort late and the ball bounced off the post and into the net, giving the visitors the lead. Despite enjoying a high share of possession, Liverpool found themselves 0-1 down after 30 minutes.

Aston Villa nearly added a second when Glen Johnson’s header back towards his own goal fell short. Weimann latched onto it and his lifted shot looped over Reina and dropped just beyond the cross-bar.

Liverpool were scrambling to move the ball further up the pitch but in doing so were leaving themselves short in defence. Benteke made a diagonal run into Liverpool’s area and returned Weimann’s pass with an audacious back-heel. Weimann moved into space to complete the one-two and subsequently doubled the lead for his side when he drilled a low shot past a hapless Reina.

Anfield was left stunned by two Villa goals in the space of 11 minutes despite the home side dominating possession. Although Liverpool were confident in moving the ball into attack, several opportunities were wasted by weak shots, over-hit passes and efficient closing down from Villa. The visitors skipped into the dressing room at half-time whilst Liverpool were left scratching their heads at the 0-2 scoreline.

Shelvey made way for Joe Cole at the start of the second half as Brendan Rodgers aimed for his side to come from behind as they did last week against West Ham. The Reds forced an early corner and with it came a big penalty shout when Daniel Agger was having his shirt pulled. The referee waved it away and Villa were able to clear.

In the opposite half, Cole gave the ball away after a poor touch and Benteke picked it up and strode into the penalty area. He shrugged off Joe Allen 12 yards away from goal and calmly placed the ball beyond Reina, making it 0-3 to Aston Villa.

As Liverpool’s urgency to score grew larger, as did their vulnerability in defence, reflected by the three goal deficit that they faced. Matthew Lowton brought down Sterling on the left-wing and Suarez’s delivery bounced around the goal line. Villa cleared the ball but Liverpool were racing to get it forward. Agger then hit a fierce left-footed shot from 30 yards and Guzan did well to get down and hold the ball.

Urgency turned into desperation for Liverpool and mistakes began to creep in. Poor control and badly placed passes were easy pickings for the visitors and Lambert’s men looked solid and disciplined in defence. This pattern of play continued throughout the second half with Villa getting several men behind the ball in order to close any gaps.

It took 87 minutes for Liverpool to finally break down Villa’s defence when Gerrard nodded Johnson’s cross past Guzan, making it 1-3.  Apart from a clever header that crept into the bottom left corner of the goal to give his side a consolation, Gerrard had been very quiet in the second half.

Aston Villa’s game plan came together and the visitors were able to take advantage of Liverpool’s commitment up front by exposing the home side’s weaknesses in defence. Careless control and tame attempts allowed the visitors to maintain the Reds and Villa were able to make it count against a sloppy Liverpool defence.

Kopworld man of the match: Christian Benteke

Fulham drop Dempsey complaint

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Fulham have dropped their complaint against Liverpool regarding last summer’s pursuit of Clint Dempsey.

The Cottagers made a formal complaint in July after a story appeared on the Fenway Sports Group website claiming that Dempsey had agreed a move to Anfield.

They withdrew the complaint after receiving a written apology from Liverpool chairman Tom Werner. The Premier League board will now consider the case, but there remains a possibility that they could take action off their own backs it they decide Liverpool have breached regulations.Clint Dempsey

“Liverpool’s Chairman Tom Werner apologised personally to Mohamed Al Fayed, stating that his club were wholly responsible for unprofessional behaviour toward Fulham and emphasised his regret for the entire episode,” Fulham said in a statement.

“In a letter from Liverpool to Fulham’s chief executive Alistair Mackintosh, Tom Werner’s praise of the magnanimous gesture from the chairman was reiterated, as was the club’s assurance that the conduct of Liverpool was simply not acceptable.

“The chairman decided that this sincere action was enough, and as a gesture of goodwill, instructed that all complaints against them be dropped.”

Hillsborough inquest application to be heard before Christmas

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The application to overturn the original Hillsborough inquest verdicts will be heard on 19 December.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve made the application to the High Court following the damning report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s regarding the original police investigation into the 1989 disaster.

And a spokesman for the Judicial Office said: “The Attorney General’s application to quash the Hillsborough inquest verdicts has been listed for a substantive hearing before the Divisional Court on Wednesday 19 December, subject to any applications by interested parties to adjourn.steven-gerrard-236-927982686[1]

“The Lord Chief Justice, sitting with two other judges, will hear the application.”

The original inquest returned accidental death verdicts, but it did not consider events after 3.15pm on the day of the disaster, saying that all victims had either died or were beyond saving by this point.

But the Independent Panel’s report concluded that 41 of the 96 victims could have survived were it not for the poor response from the emergency services.

Is it Time for Centralised Timing?

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There have been many innovations in football down the years, some good, and some bad. Many of them have been brought in purely to improve the spectator experience. One innovation which works well is the 4th official raising a board to tell everyone how much time there is to be added on at the end of the game.

But is it time for another change?

How about centralised timing controlled by the referee? He could stop the clock in a break of play and then re-start when he has ordered the game to continue. Everyone in the ground would know how much time there is left and so would the viewer at home.2012_12_10_10_59[1]

Let’s consider how you watch and react to football. Imagine the scene, you’re watching your team play an important game, one you really want to win, it’s the 87th minute and still 0-0. Then you concede a goal, how do you react? There are 3 minutes to go and you’re probably thinking something like this;

“We’ve got one maybe two good chances to get back level, so we need to throw everything forward to grab a point”

Ok, so how about the goal is scored in the 82nd minute? You’re not as frantic, but still mindful of the lack of time to go yet now you think you can still win the game.

These days our belief in how quickly goals can be scored has been stretched after games like the Champions League Finals of 1999 & 2005. In fact, today Everton scored two goals in quick succession to overturn a 1-goal deficit and win 2-1 against Tottenham. It happens often in English football that plenty of goals are scored in the final 10 minutes. The Manchester derby and the Everton v Spurs game both contained late goals.

Go back to my question about the timing of a goal. A goal is scored in the 87th minute, then the 4th official signals 5 minutes of injury time. So in reality when the goal went in there were still 8 minutes left of play, which is like the goal being scored in the 82nd minute. Your reaction is different, and so is the reaction of the players. A goal in the 82nd minute with 5 minutes of time to added on, is as if it was scored in the 77th minute as there are still 13 minutes to be played.

Jonjo Shelvey (or an own goal) today scored for Liverpool in the 78th minute. Now you’re thinking;

“there are 12 minutes left, we could still lose this so we need to be careful but is a 1-goal lead enough? Do we need to keep pushing on for another one, just in case?”

Yet in today’s game there were 7 minutes added on at the end of the game. In reality the goal was scored with 19 minutes still to be played, which is virtually halfway through the second half.

Just think, your team was 1-2 down and then goes 3-2 up midway through the second half, how do you react? Certainly not the same way you would if there were only 12 minutes to go.

So is it time to allow the spectator and the players to know how much time there really is to be added. During the injury time in the game between West Ham and Liverpool the home side wasted their own time complaining about a free-kick they’d given away. As it was the ref added on a couple of minutes to the official 5. With this new innovation, the clock would stop until West Ham had stopped complaining and then start again when the referee blows his whistle.

No more waiting ages for a goalkeeper to slowly walk back a few yards to take a goal kick. The clock would only start once he was ready to take his run-up.

The game is already far quicker than when I first started watching. The abolition of the backpass put paid to that. Plus, allowing more than one football to be used during a game (not at the same time, of course), also sped up the play as the old trick of the centre-back booting the ball into row Z would prove useless if the little ballboy immediately throws another one back on.

I think the 4th official’s board works well as everyone knows how much is to be added. The flip side of my argument is that there can be great excitement and renewed belief if the team who is 0-1 down in the 87th minute still has not scored, yet suddenly sees the board go up with 5 minutes still to be played. It can give a huge boost. But what if you knew how much time there was left and that was it? Could it make for an even more exciting finish, as a team would know for definite if there were only 10 seconds to go and a high ball into the area could create much drama?

It would put paid to the tiresome habit of the winning team making a 92-minute substitution. Rarely is it ever to change or improve the game, but simply a cynical attempt to ‘run down the clock’. But if the clock had stopped when the referee signalled to allow the substitution, then there is no advantage for the player who strolls off purely to waste more time.

If you look at the stats the ball is in play for less than 70 minutes during most matches and with clubs charging more and more money for tickets, is it time for the fan to get his money’s worth and actually get 90 minutes of entertainment?

Centralised timing would do this.

Other sports invite the spectator into the murky world of the referees watch, such as Basketball and American Football. Is it time football moved on?

Rodgers praises Shelvey

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After a big influence on the deciding goal in the 3-2 win over West Ham today, manager Brendan Rodgers has praised Jonjo Shelvey for his work standing in upfront for Luis Suarez.

“He was outstanding. But you see there are two different ways in which you can play the number nine role.” said Rodgers.

“In this country it is always a very traditional target man, a clear number nine. Give credit to Carlton Cole, I know him form my time at Chelsea, he is a real handful and was outstanding today.”jonjo-shelvey-620-189349859-3269657[1]

“But you see young Jonjo at 20 years of age playing the number nine role in a different way – dropping into midfield and combining with the midfield players to make the fourth man, being a threat when he is in around the box, showing great feet and I thought he was outstanding today the kid.”

“It was great credit to him because there was a lot of pressure on him because people have been trying to compare him to Luis Suarez.”

“But he is only 20 and has a big future ahead of him.”