Tag Archives: liverpool

Two Heavyweights Go The Distance and Man City Find One More KO Punch Over Liverpool

It’s been an incredible battle at the top of the table this season in the Premier League, with Manchester City and Liverpool going toe to toe for most of 2019.

Liverpool looked to put some distance between them and Peps men over Christmas, but the relentlessness of Manchester City meant that a hares breath separated the two teams on the final day.

I imagine several fans were nervous, and this was not helped by Liverpool getting an early goal or Brighton going ahead. Had we blown it…Had we heck.

If there is one man you want to get a ball to in front of goal it’s Sergio Aguero, and he scored a cool goal to get City level. Some shocking defending from Brighton helped Laporte pop with an excellent header, followed by a strike from Mahrez that was arguably his best moment of the season. A free kick Beckham would have been proud of saw City win, not only a game against a struggling side as expected but the League title.

The game as a whole was something of a metaphor for their whole season, going behind and leaving it nerve-wrackingly late to land the win.

All season city have been fantastic, less a few odd results losing to Crystal Palace and Newcastle. When they have got going they have been like a freight train, frankly unstoppable. Embodied again in the game against Brighton when they scored four in a show of strength and quality.

Perhaps the most incredible thing about a team winning the league with 98 points, and winning 14 games in a row is the manager doesn’t believe this team is “done.” Guardiola is a relentless perfectionist and thinks there is room for improvement in this side, which arguably on their day are the best in Europe. Perhaps fielding the best players in the world, in the likes of De Bruyne, Arguero and the player he improved beyond recognition, Sterling.

With this in mind City’s domination looks set to continue indefinitely, and it’s hard to see how the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Man United can catch up.

A thrilling end to a thrilling season, and the excitement keeps building for what’s to come.

Man City fans, is this season and back-to-back titles your best yet?

Is it Time to Bid Farewell to the Premier League’s Top Six?

As the Premier League season draws to a close, the inevitability of who the top six clubs will be is once again plain to see.

In the entire history of the Premier League, only Blackburn in 1994/95 and Leicester City in 2015/16 managed to buck the trend and top the table. For the other 25 seasons, it has been one of the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea or Arsenal.

This demonstrates the gulf that exists between the six richest clubs in the country and everyone else. There hasn’t been a single season in which at least two of the current top six, haven’t finished in the Champions League or Europa League places.

Currently, Wolves sit 11 points adrift in 7th place and although this is a very credible performance by the West Midlands club, it does show that all the rest of the Premier League is doing is making up the numbers.

It’s a similar situation in Europe with PSG in France 16 points clear, Juventus 18 points above Napoli in Italy. Ajax and PSV 18 points ahead in Holland and Barcelona nearly 30 points ahead of fifth-placed Sevilla in Spain, and Germany dominated by Bayern where 10 points separate 3rd and 4th places.

There have been rumours of interest by European clubs in a breakaway League, which some would say already exists in the UK. Not so long ago, German publication Der Spiegel ran a story about talks between Europe’s top clubs on the possibility of a breakaway league.

Many of the clubs allegedly involved were quick to distance themselves from the story, but given that most of the big clubs have the interests of their shareholders in mind rather than that of their supporters, the idea will not be seen as one which should be discounted.

The original idea that the vast amounts of money that have come into the game would trickle down to the lower leagues has proved to be just a pipe dream. As in real life, the poor have got poorer and, the rich have got very richer indeed.

With what seems like a weekly occurrence, clubs with solid support and a rich footballing history are finding themselves facing ruin as a result of massive debt. Much of this can be attributed to the fact, that clubs have found themselves needing to pay extortionate wages in order to attract players to reach the promised land of the Premier League.

Before the TV money came along, it was the people who came through the turnstiles who dictated the success of a club, now their contribution is looked at as little more than small change. The Far East market is an almost bottomless pit of merchandise sales to people who will never set foot in Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge, yet whose money is funding the chasm, which grows wider every season between the haves and have nots.

There is a growing crisis which needs to be addressed in British football, and if it means losing the countries top clubs and returning to the state that existed before Sky arrived then it is a price the sport may have to pay.

Man City Will Hope ‘Not To Do a Liverpool’ at Crystal Palace Today

It feels to me like it was the reverse leg of this fixture was the match that really opened the door to Liverpool’s league challenge, when Roy’s men saw off the boys in blue in a thriller with a somewhat shock result of 3-2.

Crystal Palace, like most Roy Hodgson sides, are incredibly well organised and they are comfortably mid-table this season, and have been playing well pretty consistently this season, including against some of the bigger teams.

Manchester City looked sluggish against Tottenham, and remaining in all competitions, with some of the star players blighted by injury will have started to take its toll. Manchester City head to Selhurst Park, (possibly my favourite ground in the Premier League) this weekend and with Liverpool looking to take this right to the wire City can’t afford to let things slide here.

It’s stating the obvious to say a squad of Man City’s calibre should see off Crystal Palace with the minimum of fuss, however, playing Hodgson’s disciplined sides can frustrate teams, and Manchester City have found this season that plenty of opposition haven’t really played against them, more sat back and aimed for damage limitation.

Hopefully this won’t be the case for this game, as it was not the case in the reverse fixture, which saw Crystal Palace capitalise on good fortune and was an excellent game for the neutral, less so the City fan.

Manchester City are two points behind Liverpool with a game in hand, and 14 points clear of third placed Chelsea, who Liverpool are taking on this weekend. Champions League football is signed, sealed and delivered for next season, but I’m sure like many fans of, well, nineteen of the twenty premier league teams, I really want to see City keep well clear of Liverpool.

It’s been a fantastic race between the top two since Christmas, and I’m hoping this will be another exciting, as well as completely crucial game.

TWO EPL Fixtures That Man City Must Win In April To Keep Title Dreams Alive

Man City’s quadruple hopes are still very much alive, and they face a season, if not history defining April. In which, they have Premier League, FA Cup semi-final and a two-legged all English Champions League quarter final to overcome.

It’s been a toe-to-toe battle with Liverpool this season, with both sides edging in front at different times of the campaign. City currently trail Liverpool by two points, but they do have a very important game in-hand over their North West rivals against no other than their Manchester neighbours United.

While Pep will no doubt be in the hunt for all three remaining trophies, however, retaining the Premier League for the first time would be a huge achievement. In order to keep in the hunt and on Liverpool’s tails, City have some tricky and big matches throughout April.

They entertain Spurs home and away in the Champions League fixture in April, with a FA Cup semi-final against Brighton near the start of the month alongside five Premier League matches – including a mouth watering Manchester derby.

However, there are two matches that are a must win for the Citizens in order to strengthen their chances of retaining their title come the end of the season.

Let’s take a look at the two fixtures in question…

Retro Football Cushions

Away v Crystal Palace – 14th April

Always a tricky place to go to and one that could be a potential banana skin for Pep’s City side – We all remember Liverpool under Rodgers!?

Pep will not want a similar story to be the headline come May. Palace on their day can mix it well with the big boys as well as City know, especially after the 3-2 defeat back in December.

A win away at Selhurst Park will make a huge statement in April and one that could go a long way in the title race.

Away v Man Utd – 24th April

It’s a tough call between this match and the Spurs match. However, as this is the game in hand over Liverpool and a Manchester derby – it edges it.

Away at a rejuvenated United side is going to be a tough fixture, but one that City have to win in order to keep either keep the pressure on or keep the distance between them and Liverpool – given the situation at the time.

This game in hand could be the title defining game. It’s going to be a tough test for City, but every game throughout the month are tough tests that Pep and his players have to overcome in order to write their name in the history books once again.

Great FA Cup games: Oldham 3 Liverpool 2 – 27.01.2013

You have to hand it to the young supporters of Oldham Athletic who support the team through thick and thin. Success in the FA Cup is something only older supporters talk about and indeed, any Latics fan approaching their thirties can only really point to a couple of games which are worthy of mention.

Beating Manchester City at Boundary Park in 2005 and Everton away in 2008 are obviously worth including, but it was the prospect of meeting Liverpool at Boundary Park in 2013 and a chance of getting into the draw for the fifth round which captured the imagination.

Many Premier League clubs would have made wholesale changes to their sides for a game against lower league opposition, however, their line up included Skrtel, Henderson, Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez.

Obviously, they wanted to stitch the game up in the first half before introducing fringe players and sitting back. The Oldham Athletic team that turned up that day had other ideas however and in the third minute, 6′ 4″ Matt Smith got on the end of a cross to put Oldham in front.

The lead lasted fourteen minutes before captain Suarez put Liverpool level.

For maximum effect, the best time to score is either side of half-time which is just what Latics decided to do. Smith pounced on a fumble from Jones deep into injury time then on loan Reece Wabara (now the CEO of a major fashion company) met a cross from Winchester to put Latics 3-1 up on 48 minutes.

Liverpool introduced Gerrard shortly after but they couldn’t break through. Joe Allen pulled one back on 80 minutes and after 10 minutes which seemed like a lifetime, the ref blew up to signal a famous victory.

 

Mahrez Shocker Has City Feeling Like Anfield Was a Loss

The moment it came for City to break their fifteen year Anfield hoodoo and two grown men were fighting on the penalty spot like kids in the playground. ‘I want it’ said Mahrez, ‘I’m having it’ said Jesus. The situation needed one of City’s leading heads to put out the fire.

At Manchester City, there is no better man to do such actions than Vincent Kompany. With the Belgian on the sidelines, City’s captain David Silva should have taken the ball away and took it himself. If he can thread a pass through a needle, a twelve-yard kick should be no trouble.

What actually happened was all too predictable, we’ve seen it all before. Riyad Mahrez threw caution to the wind and sent the ball into row Z, or more likely, Row ZZ.

Whenever players argue about whose to take the dreaded 12-yard kick, it never ends well. Just like when players shuffle on the spot before kicking or Jordan Henderson bouncing the ball for five minutes before duffing his kick at a World Cup.

Mahrez’s penalty resembled a skied tee shot on the first at St. Andrews or a missed conversion against the All Blacks at Twickenham- high, wide and a success rate of zero per cent.

The relief around Anfield was palpable. The fans cheered and Jurgen Klopp punched the air knowing his team had dodged a massive bullet.

Around the tunnel area, many were smiling. Sat behind Pep Guardiola a hooked Sergio Aguero looked on in despair. God knows what he made of it all.

One thing is for sure, there’d had been no squabbling if he’d been there to take it. Most importantly, City would probably have come away with all three points.

Fernandinho The Shining Light as City Earn a Point

They say form is temporary and class is permanent. This saying can be associated with City’s defensive midfield rock in Fernandinho as the blues earned a well-earned point at Anfield on Sunday.

After shipping seven goals in their two previous visits at Liverpool already, a clean sheet and solid defensive performance would have been welcomed to all involved in the coaching at the Etihad.

John Stones and Aymeric Laporte continued to impress at the back, keeping all of Liverpool’a front three quiet in attack and restricting the home side to very few shots on goal.

Yet the presence of Fernandinho in midfield could only bolster the young centre backs confidence as ‘Ferna’, so often left out when City are praised, was excellent and left fans wondering just how long the Brazilian can go on for in City’s midfield three.

After being exposed for pace in the defeat at Lyon in September, the Brazilian was superb in preventing the reds supplying the ball out wide to either Mo Salah or Sadio Mane.

Some pundits suggested he might struggle on his own to cope with the strength of Liverpool’s attack. The fact Ilkay Gundogan was unable to play through injury left some worried Fernandinho couldn’t cope on his own. He answered those critics with ease as Liverpool had so little chances through open play.

With testing games against Tottenham and Man United to come, Fernandinho will have to show form similar to that at Anfield. The fact he’s 33 now could cause some worry but as he proved to great effect last Sunday; Age is just a number.

Raheem Sterling’s Form Will Be Face The Ultimate Test at Anfield

4:30 on Sunday and Raheem Sterling’s biggest moment of the season will arrive. At this particular ground things always go wrong, yet in a sky blue shirt, he’s not the only one.

However, like with everything to do with Sterling, when he’s part of a struggling team -the Englishmen fast becomes the scapegoat. His critics start typing on default and all of a sudden he’s trending number one on Twitter. The World Cup was proof of the unfair animosity that exists surrounding Sterling. The response from his teammates tells us Sterling has more allies than enemies.

Moreover, Sterling’s keyboard warrior haters have been quiet over recent weeks, for they’ve had nothing to shout about.

By the end of the week, things could all be different.

The first challenge that goes in on Sterling will be met with roaring cheers from the Anfield terraces.

Liverpool will never forgive him, those City fans who acknowledge his uncredited work rate will continue to love him.

Four goals already this season, two of which against Arsenal and Newcastle were quite superb. In a new found left wing position, ‘Raz’  weaved past a few defenders, cut inside and burst the net in the process.

Leroy Sane spent August out of the squad. Club record signing Riyad Mahrez is losing the fight so far with Sterling to make the starting eleven. In the quarter-final at Anfield, Sterling was left out of the side, six months on he’ll be first on the teamsheet.

The odds of a loss at Liverpool are higher than any other side in the Premier League for City. Expect Sterling to take the flack if the seemingly inevitable happens.

Can Former Liverpool Boss Solve Man United’s Managerial Headache

In another week dominated by Mourinho’s antics, the Manchester United circus has well and truly kicked into life.

The week has seen Paul Pogba publicly told he will never captain the club again. Mourinho has had two years and has failed to get the best out of the player, meanwhile, Didier Deschamps had just two months with him over the summer, and Pogba achieving form somewhere very near his utmost best.

Yet Josè seems to place all the blame for this strained relationship squarely at the feet of the World Cup winner.

Come January it seems something will have to give. Most likely with Pogba the one to depart. But what club would possibly want a player so famously egotistical and difficult to work with I hear you ask… well that club is Barcelona. A footballing giant. So with clubs of this stature, seemingly lying in wait for the player, they must surely see something they think they can work with.

All this, coupled with an unceremonious exit from the League Cup, an exit at the hands of a rookie manager I might add, lead me to deduce that maybe, just maybe Mr Mourinho’s days are numbered.

But who could the club go for? Who could come in and steady a ship so misaligned, so riddled with frailties? The bookies would have you believe that there is only one person capable of such a task. Zinedine Zidane, but I feel this would be a terrible appointment at this time.

Now I’m sure Zinedine and Pogba are the best of pals (or at least would be), but in times like this, you need a manager that knows the Premier League. I feel the best solution in order to take a strong grip of the situation lies in the shape of one Rafa Benitez.

In a footballing world where the managerial elite, mostly seem to be in stable happy positions, Rafa could be available as tensions seem to be very high between himself and Mr Ashley.

Give Rafa three transfer windows and I feel he would have United playing a brand of football the Old Trafford faithful are much more accustomed to. Yes, he still plays with a philosophy bought out of a solid defence, but with a far more fluid, feel to it, with defensive play easing into attack seamlessly.

Is this type of talk too early?

Should Mourinho be given more time?

Well, maybe the board are happy to play the long game with him. But never before has Josè taken so long to get a team to adapt to his style. But even if this was to be achieved at some point this season, the gap to bitter rivals City and Liverpool would surely be insurmountable. Something that will never be accepted by the clubs fans. Lose the fans, and there is no way back for The Special One.