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Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland

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Liverpool were unable to victor on the opening day of the Premier League season, as Sunderland held Kenny Dalglish’s side to a 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon.
A Luis Suarez header on 13 minutes was cancelled out by a second-half volley from Sebastian Larsson, meaning that, despite being dominated for large periods of the match, Steve Bruce’s team headed home with a point.
Heading into the game, Dalglish opted to give four of his five summer signingstheir competitive debuts, with Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and, somewhat surprisingly, Jose Enrique being named in the starting line-up.
Just seven minutes into the match, Liverpool should have been in front. Charging down an attempted clearance from Kieran Richardson, Suarez advanced on the Sunderland goal. Having rounded Mignolet, the Uruguayan was clipped by the desperate lunge of the former Manchester United midfielder. In many circumstances, Richardson’s actions would have warranted a red card, but Phil Dowd settled for a yellow, much to the home crowd’s dismay. Suarez, fresh from his goalscoring antics at the Copa America, stepped up to take the penalty and, despite the confident run-up, failed to hit the target from twelve yards.
Missing a penalty can hinder the confidence levels of any player, but the no. 7 didn’t seem to be affected by such a mistake, making amends just six minutes later. Having been awarded a free kick on the right-hand side, Adam swung the ball into the visitors’ box. Having peeled off his marker, a glancing header from Suarez found the bottom corner at the near post. It was the first goal of the entire Premier League season.
Liverpool thought they’d doubled their lead on 20 minutes, but Andy Carroll was adjudged to have fouled Anton Ferdinand in the build-up to his disallowed strike, which had come about as a result of an excellent cross from Downing.
The hosts had a number of opportunies to strengthen their strangehold on the game (numerically speaking), with Charlie Adam forcing a smart save from Mignolet, whilst a lengthy run from Downing led to the England winger crashing a shot on to the woodwork.
Sunderland did threaten before the interval, with a teasing Larsson free kick evading absolutely everybody, but it was clear that Steve Bruce wasn’t impressed with his side’s performance.
After half time, the format of the match changed, with the Black Cats starting to retain the ball and Liverpool beginning to tire after a quick, hard first 45.
Youngster John Flanagan, an unexpected inclusion for many, was caught in possession by the impressive Larsson, whose centre gave Asamoah Gyan an easier chance than he made of it.
The visitors’ goal arrived as a result of poor man-for-man defending, with a deep ball finding an unmarked Larsson. Having peeled away from the inexperienced Flanagan, the former Birmingham City midfielder somehow managed to guide a precise volley past Jose Manuel Reina.
It was a frustrating moment for Dalglish’s side, who could have been out of sight on another day. The equaliser gave Sunderland the incentive to take control of the match.
Liverpool offered very little in the final half hour, although Carroll looked to change that with a neat turn and shot which deflected just wide.
A tiring Suarez was replaced by Raul Meireles with 15 minutes remaining, but a fresh pair of legs did little to influence the game, as the visiting defence held firm to ensure an unlikely point.

Written by The LFC Testament

August 13, 2011 at 17:44

Posted in Uncategorized

2010-11 awards.

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It isn't mentioned in the article, but it's certainly my photograph of the season.

Liverpool’s season has reached its conclusion; The LFC Testament’s first season as a blog has done the same.

In July, I set up a ‘Player Scoring System’ on the old blogspot domain, which was meant to tell me who was performing well (and not so) through the process of mathematics. However, as I made the sensible transition to WordPress, I basically decided that my days of tallying up on a frequent basis had ended with my compulsory education in May 2010.

Not to worry though, I can still give you a good idea of how the season’s gone; it’s just that this is through the process of opinion. Not that it’s a lesser alternative:

Best player – Lucas Leiva
The landslide victory on the official website tells an awful lot of the Leiva story. Between late July and early January (a period that you still have to consider in such an awards process, regardless of who the authorities were), the Brazilian international was simply the least worst in an underwhelming squad. Since the return of Dalglish, Lucas has went from a hardworking-yet-awkward midfielder, to a permanent fixture with a lengthy contract extension. Long may this brilliant form continue.

Worst player – Joe Cole
I can already hear the calls of “That’s harsh!”, but it’s important that you consider my reasoning here. In my opinion, Cole is the worst player to feature in all the quarters of this season. We’ve arrived at the point where Christian Poulsen wouldn’t get a game if we were Garston Woodcutters (he hasn’t played since we were in the Europa League), and Paul Konchesky’s time as Liverpool’s number three was cut short as soon as we got the chance. Their quality of performances were probably lower than our apparent marquee signing of last summer, but my choice was still being selected and playing poorly in the final game on Sunday.

Best signing – Luis Suarez

I was mulling over Raul Meireles, but he spent half of the season tremendously out of his natural position, and didn’t really settle into his own expected levels of performance and consistency until managerial changes were made. It’s difficult to question the following statement; Luis Suarez has been sensational since his deadline day arrival. Speed-of-thought, purposeful movement and industry all coupled in with that phsycological edge to his game that makes those who he plays for love him, and those who he plays against the contrary.

Worst signing – Paul Konchesky

When ranking your signings, you need to take into account the supposed contents of the transfers and the end product. First of all, we won’t be getting our money back on a Konchesky who is just one year into a long term deal. We also won’t be getting two players back in the form of Laurie Dalla Valle and Alexander Kacaniklic, who went the other way. The former Fulham left-back was simply out of his comfort zone, having spent his career plying his trade with sides who tolerated his tactically inept style of defending.

Most improved – Jay Spearing

Merely a fringe player when on loan at the Championship’s Leicester City, Stevie Heighway’s claims that Spearing could play in the Liverpool first team at seventeen were looking increasingly far-fetched. Even upon Hodgson’s arrival, with appearances in the Europa League, I saw an energetic midfielder with little idea of where to position himself and no real future at the club. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times though, the change of manager has helped. Tidy performances and a deserved extension to his current deal are testament to Spearing’s willingness to succeed and the management’s believing of his abilities.

Best match – Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City

In my opinion, our best team performance this season. The fluidity of our attacks were a joy to behold as what loosely seemed like a 4-2-2-2 formation swung into full effect. Andy Carroll opened his account at Anfield with two sensational goals, whilst Dirk Kuyt eventually ended a flawless move for Liverpool with a composed finish past the impressive Hart. Defensively, with a certain youngster to be mentioned later on featuring for the first time, we never looked like being breached by Roberto Mancini’s £111 million forward line. A superb Monday evening (for once) all round.

Worst match – Liverpool 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

If you don’t laugh, you cry. For me, the lowest point of the unfortunate sixth months spent with Roy Hodgson. The winless travellers that were Wolverhampton Wanderers, occupying the bottom position in the Premier League table at the time, arrived at Anfield, scored a goal and looked comfortable. A game remembered for those who, like me, have a thing for the Guardian’s chalkboard feature; just have a look at Reina’s distribution and Torres’ shots. You certainly won’t think we needed time to adapt to Hodgson’s system after that.

Best youngster – John Flanagan

Not just for his promising stint in the first team. Flanagan’s been a key player in both the Under 18 and Reserve set-up this season, and he’s the kind of full-back I like. Hard in the tackle, tidy in the pass and comfortable in the opposition’s half. As eighteen-year-olds go, he’s a specialist in his trade already.

Written by The LFC Testament

May 23, 2011 at 20:26

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Aston Villa 1-0 Liverpool

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Suarez fails to take advantage of lacklustre Villa defending.

Liverpool’s season ended without European qualification on Sunday afternoon, as a first half Stewart Downing goal gave Aston Villa a 1-0 victory at Villa Park.

The defeat, coupled with a 2-1 win for Tottenham Hotspur over the relegated Birmingham City at White Hart Lane, means that Kenny Dalglish’s side will not be plying their trade on the continent in 2011-12, having finished in sixth place.

Prior to the match, the visitors made three changes from the team that had been beaten at Anfield by Harry Redknapp’s men last time out, with Joe Cole, Raul Meireles and Fabio Aurelio replacing the absent Glen Johnson, Andy Carroll and Maxi Rodriguez.

With four teenagers making up the Liverpool bench (including a debut appearance in the first team squad for Andre Wisdom), there was certainly an end-of-season feel to the game in terms of personnel.

Early on in the match, Jay Spearing’s afternoon was over, having failed to recover from an untidy Nigel Reo-Coker challenge. Jonjo Shelvey replaced him in the centre of midfield.

The Reds’ went close to taking the lead in the 15th minute, as Lucas Leiva’s half volley was blocked on the line by Ashley Young following a Meireles corner.

Not long after, the impressive Brazilian midfielder’s lofted pass caught the hosts’ back four napping, sending Luis Suarez through on goal. Brad Friedel was quick to shift from his position and remove the danger.

Besides a bloodied Jamie Carragher head, little occured between the Suarez ‘chance’ and the only goal of the encounter. Patient build-up play in the Villa midfield resulted in space on the right for Marc Albrighton. The youngster’s deep cross found the chest of Downing, who showed composure to rifle home a 33rd minute lead for the Midlands outfit.

The goal didn’t disrupt the pattern of the game; neither side asserted dominance on proceedings. The ever-present Martin Skrtel almost found an equaliser from a narrow Aurelio free-kick, but couldn’t get the necessary touch on a smart cross.

After the interval, it was much the same. Joe Cole was presented with an opportunity to draw Liverpool level, but failed to hit the target with his volley in the 55th minute.

The vistors’ best chance of the game arrived just after the hour mark. A wonderful turn in the box by Suarez sent two Villa defenders sprawling. The Uruguayan looked to square the ball to Meireles who, with the goal at his mercy, somehow didn’t get the ball past the desperate lunges of Brad Friedel and Richard Dunne.

The Portuguese midfielder probably should have done better with an opportunity just moments later as well, as his attempt to divert the ball across the face of goal was easily quashed by Reo-Coker, before an Aurelio dead ball crept just wide of Friedel’s right hand post.

At the other end, Darren Bent’s audacious shot from the edge of the box was kept out by Pepe Reina, as the season came towards its conclusion.

Liverpool’s search for an equaliser was prolonged with minutes remaining, as smart build-up play from John Flanagan and Meireles set up a deep Suarez, who sent a thumping effort into the stand.

With 10 minutes left, Birmingham equalised at White Hart Lane – but it proved too little, too late for Liverpool who won’t be competing in Europe next season.

Written by The LFC Testament

May 22, 2011 at 18:44

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It’s the dawning of a new era.

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As I announced on my Twitter page yesterday, I have been selected by an independent panel to represent the Under 18s category in Liverpool Football Club’s new Supporters’ Committee.

The consultation group is something that I believe will, at the very least, repair a broken relationship between the fans and the club. Recently, we saw our loyalty to the institution that we care for ignored, tossed aside as weekly interest rates on a crippling debt took precedent. Now, we’re looking forward to direct conversations with those who run that institution, and it’s a pleasure to be involved in these first positive steps towards better times.

My role consists of attending four meetings a year, providing the authorities at the club with an opinion of somebody in my age group. In between, I feel as though my role should be listening to you, the supporter.

I apologise that this is brief (I am currently in the thick of exam revision), but I cannot stress enough how much I want to hear from those that I am representing. If you enter my Contact page located in the toolbar at the side of this article, you can e-mail me your problems, observations or solutions. Together, we can help improve our club.

Written by The LFC Testament

May 21, 2011 at 10:42

Posted in Uncategorized

Fulham 2-5 Liverpool

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Maxi celebrates his hat-trick.

A second Maxi Rodriguez hat-trick in three games helped Liverpool climb back into a European spot on Monday evening, as Fulham were soundly beaten 5-2 at Craven Cottage.

The Argentinean international bagged his second treble in as many weeks having opened the scoring after 36 seconds, with Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez also netting in what was a fantastic performance.

Goals from Moussa Dembele and Steve Sidwell proved only consolation, but denied Jamie Carragher a clean sheet in what was his 666th appearance, a haul that takes him second in the all-time list (now behind Ian Callaghan).

The result means that Kenny Dalglish’s are now two points clear of rivals-for-fifth Tottenham having played a game more. The sides meet at Anfield on Sunday.

Prior to the match, it became apparent that Andy Carroll would be unable to feature, so the same side that beat Newcastle at Anfield last Sunday started the game.

And Fulham were to suffer similar woes to that of the Magpies, in the form of an early Maxi Rodriguez goal. A sharp, powerful ball down the left hand channel by Lucas Leiva found the advancing Luis Suarez. His low cross then ricocheted off Carlos Salcido towards goalkeeper Mark Schwarez, who couldn’t keep out the Maxi rebound.

Sometimes, breaking the deadlock so quickly can be viewed as too early, particularly in a match which the hosts expected something from. However, Liverpool had other ideas, and the advantage was doubled after just seven minutes, with Glen Johnson’s high run being spotted by Lucas. The England full-back made the most of the space given to him, teeing up Rodriguez for a composed finish, much similar to his second at home to Birmingham in late April.

Just after the quarter-hour mark, it was three. A deep, diagonal ball from Johnson found a largely unchallenged Dirk Kuyt, who turned and smashed through the hapless Schwarzer in an instant.

Suarez attempted a spectacular fourth after turning Brede Hangeland but failed to hit the target; a rarity thus far in his time at Anfield.

Next, an accurate throw from Reina set Suarez on his way. The centre came to Maxi, whose volley ended up in the stands.

Liverpool’s second period started badly, as Raul Meireles left the field clutching the back of his thigh, with Jonjo Shelvey replacing him.

Fulham’s performance after the interval improved dramatically, and their proud unbeaten record at home in the 2010/11 season was suddenly airing its legitimacy. They got the goal that they deserved just before the hour, as Moussa Dembele arrived at a smart Bobby Zamora lay-off to reignite the majority within Craven Cottage.

But the fight-back lasted minutes before Liverpool ended the game as a contest; it was Maxi Rodriguez for the third, yet again. A smart one-two with the impressive John Flanagan almost paid off, but the loose ball was picked up again by Rodriguez, and thundered in from outside the area.

Shelvey then set Suarez up for a fifth with fifteen minutes remaining, threading the ball between two defenders before the Uruguayan rounded Schwarzer and slotted into an empty net.

The scoring wasn’t complete though, with the hosts getting their second through a wonderfully executed half volley from Steve Sidwell.

Written by The LFC Testament

May 9, 2011 at 21:33

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Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle United

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Kuyt's fine scoring form continues.

Liverpool rose to fifth on Sunday afternoon, as goals from Maxi Rodriguez, Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez completed a 3-0 victory over Newcastle United at Anfield.

The result means that the Reds have leapfrogged Tottenham Hotspur into the one remaining Europa League place, though it must be noted that Harry Redknapp’s side have a game in hand.

Liverpool were buoyed by the long awaited return of Glen Johnson at left back, having spent four weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. However, Andy Carroll was only deemed fit for the bench against a club where he managed 33 goals in 91 games.

It wasn’t long before the hosts had the deadlock broken, with Maxi Rodriguez maintaining his fine goalscoring form at the Anfield Road end. With just ten minutes on the clock, a lovely sequence of passing ended with a half-volley from the Argentinean being deflected off the leg of Danny Simpson and past the stranded Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal.

Liverpool spent the opening third of the match in control, with Jay Spearing’s speculative effort coming in between some smart passing play. The visitors’ first real opportunity came on the half hour mark, as one of many dangerous Joey Barton free kicks met the head of Shola Ameobi, who probably should have done better.

The hosts responded when Lucas got on to the end of a John Flanagan cross. His attempt was good but Krul was aware.

The second half began with Alan Pardew’s side squandering easily their best chance of the game, as a Kevin Nolan centre found Barton with quite a lot of time and space; his effort managing just the side netting. Luis Suarez’s quick feet almost made them pay, as his shot was deflected agonisingly past the post by Mike Williamson.

Just before the hour mark, Liverpool had a penalty. A ball out by Pepe Reina looked set to trickle out for a goal kick, but the willingness and hassling nature of Luis Suarez helped get around Williamson and advance towards the goal. In a bid to recover, the Newcastle defender grabbed hold of the Uruguayan’s shirt and pulled him down. Referee Peter Walton didn’t hesitate to point to the spot, and Dirk Kuyt slotted home his fourth goal in as many games to double Liverpool’s advantage.

The Dutchman then turned provider just moments later, cleverly slipping in Suarez who confidently dispatched from six yards out to all but seal the result.

With the points secure, Dalglish introduced Carroll to a standing ovation from the Kop.

But it was Meireles who was next to threaten, coming within inches of making it four from a Glen Johnson ball from out wide.

Written by The LFC Testament

May 1, 2011 at 13:18

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Liverpool 5-0 Birmingham City

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Maxi celebrates his seventh minute opener.

A hat-trick courtesy of Maxi Rodriguez helped send Liverpool on their way to a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Birmingham City at Anfield, and keep their hopes of European qualification alive.

The Argentinean international put Kenny Dalglish’s side into a seventh minute lead, taking advantage of a glaring error from Ben Foster in the Birmingham goal.

Dirk Kuyt then made it two for the hosts, maintaining his fine goalscoring run, scoring at the second attempt after his initial effort had been kept out.

Maxi furthered the home side’s lead in the second half, perfectly timing his run on to a Luis Suarez cross. His third came not long after, eventually forcing the ball past substitute ‘keeper Colin Doyle.

Joe Cole came off the bench late on to round off the scoring, when his mazy run ended in a shot which tamely crossed the line.

The result is the Reds’ biggest victory in 2010/11 thus far, and moves them to within three points of fifth placed Tottenham Hotspur, who dropped points at home to West Bromwich Albion.

Liverpool went into the game attempting to end a seven-year win drought against Birmingham, having not managed a league victory over the second city side since a 3-0 scoreline at St. Andrews in May 2004.

However, the feeling around Anfield pre-match was good, with Academy graduates making up the bulk of the ‘in form’ category. Mature, impressive performances from John Flanagan, Jack Robinson and Jay Spearing have left the Liverpool support drooling at the prospect of the coming years.

The trio retained their places in the starting eleven against Alex McLeish’s Carling Cup winners, with 17-year-old Robinson handed his first start for Liverpool at left-back – whilst there was also a place on the bench for U18s’ captain Conor Coady. Two fitness tests before the game revealed two different outcomes. Andy Carroll was ruled out, whilst captain Jamie Carragher started at centre-half.

An energetic start to the afternoon by the hosts was awarded with a seventh minute opener, as Maxi Rodriguez capped his long-awaited selection with a goal. A thumping effort from Spearing proved too hot to handle for Foster, allowing the South American to steer the loose ball into the Kop end net.

The goal meant Liverpool have now netted in sixteen consecutive Premier League games – the best run of any side in the division so far this season.

Birmingham’s response to the goal was a spirited one and after Craig Gardner hooked an effort over the bar, Flanagan was forced into producing an excellent defensive header to prevent Liam Ridgewell from arriving in a dangerous area.

Despite an improvement in performance for McLeish’s side, Liverpool’s goal advantage was doubled in the 23rd minute, when Dirk Kuyt managed to make the most of another Ben Foster parry.

The hosts were now playing with confidence, as Raul Meireles’ effort was prevented by a last ditch sliding block from Sebastian Larsson. The ball ended up at the feet of Lucas, whose shot appeared to strike the hand of Stephen Carr. Any appeals for a penalty were waved away by Howard Webb.

Birmingham’s afternoon went from bad to worse five minutes before the break when Foster was forced from the field having failed to shake off a knock sustained while trying to prevent Liverpool’s second goal. His replacement Colin Doyle almost had to pick the ball out of the net instantly, but Kuyt’s header was ultimately a poor one.
In first half stoppage time, Doyle was called into action, denying Suarez after the Uruguayan had shrugged off the challenge of Ridgewell, but failed to generate enough power on his left-foot shot to find the net.

The second half started just as the first, with Suarez clipping a free kick over the bar from distance.

Birmingham’s use of the ball seemed to have more purpose as the half wore on, but any chance of a comeback was ended in the 66th minute, as a chipped Luis Suarez cut-back was confidently dispatched by the unmarked Rodriguez.

The winger completed his hat-trick not long after, as his drive from the edge of the box was just about kept out by Colin Doyle, who was unable to prevent the second effort.

It was another substitute who added Liverpool’s fifth, when Cole beat Doyle at his near post via a slight deflection off Jiranek to put the seal on an afternoon to remember at Anfield.

Written by The LFC Testament

April 23, 2011 at 17:01

Posted in Uncategorized