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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

Liverpool vs. Burnley

Liverpool 3  Burnley 0

UEFABestIt has been a great week for Liverpool. Alisson Becker won UEFA Best Keeper of the Year award and Virgil Van Dijk won UEFA Best Player of the Year, beating out Messi and Rinaldo. We cannot wait until Alisson is all healthy again.

VanDijkUEFAPlayerLiverpool won their first clean sheet this season against Burnley with the goalkeeper, Adrian, and they remain the only perfect team in the Premier League.

 

ManeMadA couple of weeks ago, Jurgen Klopp said the boys are friends but not best friends. They have to push each other.  A lot of fans will have noticed Sadio Mane fuming after being substituted. It had nothing to do with being taken out. It seems to have been due to a pass that should have been sent his way.

These are young, passionate men. How else could they play at this level? Do not be troubled.  This is what Klopp meant when he said these boys cannot be “best” friends.   In this instance, Mane was in a better position to shoot. Maybe Salah does not see him. Perhaps, next time Salah makes the assist. Or not.

I am not sure, but this is something, for a team to stay perfect, they have to balance each man’s hunger to score (high driver for both Mane and Salah) against the team’s need to score.  And to catch that elusive Premier League Title this year, we need a lot of goals. Man City will never relent.

FirminoBurnleyRoberto Fermino has the balance between personal desires and performance for benefit of the team down pat. He scored the third goal, set up by Salah (although I am not sure Salah meant to set him up). However, Fermino plays unselfishly, always looking for the best space to put the ball.

He does not get enough credit for his incredible contributions to the team. He is tireless, winning back the ball all the time, setting up teammates, as well as scoring in critical periods. And that is the thing, Liverpool is a world-class team that has made its players world-class. Not the other way around. As long as they hold on to that, anything is possible this season.

Next week is International Break. So take a breath. It is going to be a long season. The games will come fast and furious as both Champion’s League and Caribou Cup competitions begin. No more than three days between games for weeks and weeks. The more Liverpool win, the more they will have to play. And I do not see Jurgen Klopp and his boys wanting to sacrifice one trophy for another. They will want all the trophies.

Liverpool vs Arsenal

Liverpool   3   Arsenal 1

Liverpool looked the best team in the world in their game against Arsenal. In three games, Liverpool is the only team which has not dropped any points left in the EPL.

In his pre-game press conference, Jurgen Klopp talked about “team spirit” in regards to Liverpool. One of the many things that drew me to Liverpool is the heart of the team. It is not the trophies and triumphs, although those things are great, but the way the team plays together. Liverpool went through a lull in the first part of the century. Now, they embody all the greatness of the club.

Klopp said, yes, they are all friends but not best friends. This is important because they must push each other to the next level, to have a team spirit that is super competitive, to maintain a hunger, drive, an anger as well as a love to succeed, to improve, to rise. Against Arsenal, the spirit of Liverpool hit their opposition like an attack of wild dragons.