Liverpool vs Leicester City

Liverpool 2  Leicester City 1

Milner_LiverpoolThe drama queens were at it again for the second time this week. My heart is barely beating. It went down to the whistle as Liverpool pounded out a last second penalty kick to continue their record-breaking winning streak.

Echoes of our mid-week Champions League win against Salzburg pervaded the pitch. Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool’s former manager, brought a hungry and talented Leicester team to Anfield. They made a tired Liverpool work for every inch.  They even carried it a bridge too far with a penalty on Mo Salah that sent him off injured. Quite worrying. Thank heavens for the International break. I need a rest. I think we all do.

The ever-reliable, Mane, put us up by one in first half. Late in the game, Leicester drew level and I thought, well, that’s that. Then a clumsy challenge on Mane inside the box in the 94th minute gave us a free kick. Milner cleaned up and Liverpool continue their unbelievable winning streak. Anfield remains an impenetrable fortress.

Liverpool vs Red Bull Salzburg

Liverpool 4.  Red Bull Salzburg 3

 

European nights returned to Anfield. And, of course, our Liverpool boys were complete drama queens about the whole thing.   I am listening at work, getting all happy with a three goal lead. I am all pumped for a blow out.

But no, wait, that is not what happened. The young Salzburg team comes back in spectacular fashion, getting even at 3-3 twenty minutes into the second half. And the Egyptian king, Mo Salah, comes through and saves the day. We scrape by instead of what we should have done – you know, beat them 7-0.

My heart is hurting. I came home and watched the highlights. I see on that last goal Salzburg scored, we left a man in the box totally unmarked. Not like our boys. I admit I was a little peeved at how much space Salzburg had to work in, but I should not have been. The lads always find a way. Liverpool got the win.

I hope Liverpool train hard and steel themselves for this weekend. Brendan Rogers returns to Anfield with third place Leicester, and he will have no mercy for his former team.  We will need more than luck and grit to beat this team. If we don’t close down our lines hard, Liverpool will drop points on our sacred ground.  So on to the next. We can do it.

 

 

 

October 2019 – Queen of Cups

img_1446October is my favorite month of the year. I love Autumn and in the South, the fall tends to come late, usually around mid-October. I love the crisp autumn air. Nothing makes me feel more alive than the dying year.

For this month, the card I drew on New Year’s Eve 2018 was the Queen of Cups. This is signifies nurturing, caring, and warmth. I guess that works out as my daughter is living with me for a couple of months, working on a project here before returning to her beloved New York.

qlHUWq1xQzKHGoNBT4DPxwIn September, I had thought briefly she might want to keep working here in the South. The cost of living is cheaper. She can make quite a good living here, but she misses New York already. So I am going to appreciate the bit of extra time we get together. I know Frankie has appreciated having two humans to boss around.  I can’t believe there are only two months remaining in this year. I thought I would be further along with things.  I really did.

 

The Unstable Unicorns Of Liverpool

fullsizeoutput_1e1Two games, two wins for Liverpool in week 7 of the long, long season. So what is this about unicorns?

I also have an obsession with games in general, board games, video games, sports games, whatever it is, I love competition. Lately,  I am obsessed with Unstable Unicorns. It is a game of hilarity in which you try to have more unicorns in your stable than the other players. There are three types of unicorns; baby, basic, and special. All are magical and all count exactly the same. (Except the Ginormous unicorn which counts as two unicorns).IHVf9CsORNeezkYdmXvhuQ

I figure no one has yet to compare my favorite team of all time, Liverpool, to unicorns so I have taken it upon myself in reviewing this week’s two games, one in the Caribao Cup against MK Dons where we played a lot of our adorable, baby unicorns and an ugly win at Bramall Lane against newly promoted Sheffield United where our most powerful unicorns were turned into pandas for most of the game.

Caribou Cup  Liverpool 2.   MK Dons 0

fullsizeoutput_1e0Baby narwal goalkeeper, Caoimhin Kelleher kept a clean sheet on Wednesday against MK Dons. He played the Neigh card over and over again, denying MK Dons even a single goal. He looked way more experienced than his twenty years dancing about on this planet.

Ki-Jana Hoever, all of seventeen years old, another fine baby unicorn in Liverpool’s stable, scored to secure the win in the competition. Veteran, James Milner, my dog’s favorite player, scored the first goal, a magical Pugicorn indeed.

Harvey Elliott, all of sixteen years old, showed such promise. What a player. No doubt when he grows up, he will be one of Liverpool’s most magical unicorns of all time. He does have that look. Our other babies, Rhian Brewster and Curtis Jones, looked lethal and on any other Premier League team, would probably start regularly. But this is Liverpool and this means more.

 

Premier League Week 7 Liverpool 1   Sheffield United 0

 

fullsizeoutput_1dfIn his pre-game press conference, Sheffield United’s coach said he would play Liverpool to the death. He would not go down easy. And he was true to his word.

Adrian played the part of the Ginormous Unicorn (two unicorns in one) in goal and helped us keep a clean sheet with Van Dijk, the Magical Kittencorn (so adorable and cannot be destroyed or removed, no matter what you do).

Gini Wijnaldum did his part as the Glitter Unicorn by magically sneaking a goal right under the legs of Sheffield’s goalkeeper.  People are making much of this, that Liverpool would have drawn if not for that mistake. Well, the mistake did happen. Liverpool did win. An ugly win counts as much as a blow out win, and no matter what happens with Manchester City, Liverpool will remain at least 5 points clear at the top of the table.

fullsizeoutput_1e2Sheffield United showed true quality. They could have beaten us but for the fact that our players defended as the magical unicorns they are. However, Sheffield did the equivalent of playing the dread Pandamonium card on Liverpool for much of the game, turning our fierce unicorns into pandas which have no magical properties whatsoever.

Sadio Mane, a Chainsaw Unicorn who can usually cut through the defense and saw a big hole into the goalkeeper could not find the net. Mo Salah, the Annoying Flying Unicorn (only annoying from the opposition’s point of view) in that he seems to be everywhere at once, could not quite quite bend the ball past the keeper. He set up a couple of decent chances, but that last splash of magic was squashed by a very determined Sheffield United team.

Bobby Firmino, an Extremely Destructive Unicorn, was unable to breach the final third of the pitch as he usually does. In most games, he leaves the opposition’s back line lying in shriveled heaps on the ground, wondering what the Hell just happened. Not this week.

Still, 1-0 is worth three points. Liverpool, as unicorns or pandas, remain perfect.

Champions League and Brendan Roger’s Leicester City are up next. Let’s hope our unicorns are ready to wreak some destruction on their opposition.

 

Liverpool vs Chelsea

Liverpool 2.  Chelsea 1

KxXVpQjvTUm0uWunIoZXSASo I went to watch Liverpool play Chelsea with my brother at a pub that happens to be the Chelsea Fan Club spot. I sat, a lone Liverpool fan in a sea of blue. Even my own brother is a Chelsea fan. It’s not a committed relationship with him like Liverpool is with me. My brother loves Christian Pulisic who did not play one second of the game. I am personally glad about that. Not sure the result would have been the same if Chelsea had put Pulisic on the field. I wonder what the issue is there? Anyone have any ideas?IMG_0012

I keep telling my brother that he’d be a  happier as a Liverpool fan.  He is a long -time Dortmund fan so I thought when Klopp came to Liverpool that would settle his EPL loyalties. Nope, he follows players more than managers. So, his new love for Chelsea is proving to be a tough haul.

It was an ugly win. Chelsea could easily have snagged a point many times over. That probably stings a bit for Frank Lampart and his young team to have come away with nothing. Liverpool had a hard time clearing their lines, getting second balls.

Liverpool made outstanding tackle after tackle only to give the ball right back to Chelsea with careless passes. Chelsea is a team of babies – meaning they are really young. I see a lot of potential there and they will be top-flight again in the near future. No doubt about it.

No, it was not Liverpool’s greatest performance. This does not matter in the reality of winning titles and trophies. Liverpool played to the final whistle and snagged the three points to keep them five points clear of the soul-destroying Manchester City.

Liverpool are breaking winning records week after week. They are now 4 wins away from the longest EPL winning streak ever, behind everyone’s favorite football-playing robots of Manchester City. And today, Liverpool is the first team to win their first six games of the EPL season twice in a row.  Up, Reds.

 

I loved seeing Trent Alexander-Arnold’s beautiful goal on a penalty which was a roll by Salah to him, drawing the Chelsea players forward and obstructing the goalkeeper’s vision so he could fire that ball into the corner. It was beautiful. I love that Trent is a local boy, a true scouser and getting better and better. So young and so much tremendous potential.

Firmino made it two with a header from a lovely delivery from Andy Robertson. There were many opportunities at both ends for both Chelsea and Liverpool to score. Both teams played a good game and both teams have things to work on. I did not stick around for commentary as I was now a lone red in a sea of buzzing angry blue.

Next up, The Caribou Cup.

European Nights – Liverpool vs Napoli

Liverpool 0   Napoli 2

LiverpoolNapoliLiverpool continues its trouble with Away games in the Champions League and fell 2-nil to Napoli. It is not the result I would have expected, not even watching the match. Liverpool fired on all cylinders, had the majority of the ball. But in the 82nd minute, a penalty inside the box gave Napoli the game. I do not believe there would have been a second goal if that penalty had not happened.

Liverpool fans, do not panic. We did this last year and still became champions. Had Salah or Firmino gotten through on some of their earlier chances (both goalkeepers made unbelievable saves), the momentum would have gone to us. Liverpool controlled the majority of possession. We got a bit unlucky on the penalty and a little sloppy in stoppage time.  It happens. We can still dream of multiple trophies. Remember Barcelona.  Keep believing. Never give up.

Liverpool vs Newcastle

Liverpool 3  Newcastle 1

I do not love the international break. It is a period of white noise waiting for the next step in the journey. I am filled with relief that Premier League football is back. And Liverpool remains perfect.  Newcastle gave us a great game, but Anfield is a fortress. Liverpool in beating Newcastle became the first premier League team to win 14 games in a row scoring more than 2 goals in each game. A nice little record. If they win a mere 5 more, they will beat the record for the longest ever winning streak in Premier League history.

Highlights of game

To top it off, Man City fell to Norwich. Liverpool could have warned them. Norwich was a formidable opponent when they came to Anfield.  This puts Liverpool 5 points on the top of the table, the largest margin after 5 games of any team in the Premier League era. This is a big deal but it is early days.

IMG_0004I am still cautious in predicting trophies and triumphs. Anything can happen in football. That said, this is such a special Liverpool team.

The front three remain a force of nature with Roberto Firmino being able to call the wind, Sadio Mane directing lightening, and Mohamed Salah causing thunder. These three are the weapons wielded by the rest of the team.

Virgil Van Dijk commands a tireless defense, with Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold whipping up a gale that makes opponents tremble.  Both Joel Matip and Joe Gomez make great compliments to big Virgil.

Dejan Lovren can come in a pinch. The team is getting deeper and deeper. We still have Nathaniel Clyne back from his loan to Bournemouth.

We have the Golden Glove winning goalkeeper, Alisson Becker. He got injured in the first game. So Adrian, who I imagine did not expect to play a second when he came into the squad, came in. He has done an admirable job filling those big gloves. Already, he has made a trophy-winning save against Chelsea.  Sitting in the background is new signing, Andy Lonergan, who has great experience and will aid in the training of our young keepers as well as come in should both Adrian and Alisson be unavailable.

There is not a weak link in this team. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back from injury, and is primed to contribute in bigger and bigger ways going forward. Fabinho has really found his stride in the midfield.  Naby Keita will be back from injury, and by the end of last season, this young man was starting to show real quality.  Xherdan Shaqiri stayed back from the International Break to improve his play. We will not soon forget his contribution against Manchester United last season. This is an exciting player to watch.

The heroes of Barcelona, Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum, continue to develop into outstanding players.

And do not forget the veterans, James Milner has mastered rallying the troops, and captain Jordan Henderson may take his back out for all the trophies he may have to lift this season. We can dream. Adam Llalana is excellent although injuries have underscored his quality. When healthy, this is a brilliant player that is often under-estimated much to the chagrin of Liverpool’s opponents.

We have a great stable of young players as well in all positions, all with potential to turn into world-class players under the tutelage of this great manager and the players he nurtures into small forces of nature.  Be on the look out for Rhian Brewster, Curtis Jones, Harvey Eliot, Ki-Jana Hoever, Yassar Larouci, Sepp Van Den Berg, and Caoimhin Kelleher.

Regardless of what does happen this season, this is the best Liverpool team I have ever seen in my lifetime, even better than the team that first introduced me to the Reds in the mid-80’s.  There will never be another team like this in my life time. If you are a Liverpool fan, wake up and take it in. This is a rare thing, a rare combination of players, manager, and atmosphere. This Liverpool is a true team, comrades and allies, great talent made world-class by their football mates.  At this pace, these mentality giants may get Jurgen Klopp a statue next to Bill Shankly..  Enjoy the ride.