Liverpool 3 – 1 Everton: How It Happened

Liverpool continued their recent dominance over their Stanley Park neighbours with a convincing 3-1 win in the 228th Merseyside derby on Saturday.

Sadio Mane, Phillipe Coutinho and Divock Origi were on the scoresheet for the Reds, who stretched Everton’s winless run at Anfield into its 19th year.

Before the match, the club honoured long time club physician Ronnie ‘Bugsy’ Moran, who passed away earlier in the week. Known by many as ‘Mr.Liverpool,’ Moran was remembered with a minutes applause by both teams and the crowd, as well as a mosaic across the whole Kop.

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Jurgen Klopp selected a predictable Liverpool side, with Adam Lallana unavailable with a thigh injury sustained on international duty, Jordan Henderson being kept out by his persistent foot problems, while Daniel Sturridge couldn’t play due to his body being held together by tissue paper.

Klopp resisted the temptation to slot Coutinho into the midfield, instead pushing Emre Can forward and relying on the experience of Lucas in the holding position.

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Ronald Koeman elected to go down a different route. He sprung a surprise by naming a young, inexperienced side in an attempt to end the Toffees’ 13-match winless run against Liverpool.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin kept Kevin Mirallas on the bench and Tom Davies was preferred to Gareth Barry in the centre. The absence of Morgan Schneiderlin caused Koeman revert to a back-three. Little-known defender Matthew Pennington made his Premier League debut on the right side of the defence.

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It was always going to be interesting to see how the young Everton team would settle in such a hostile atmosphere. The answer, evidently, was poorly.

Midfielder Ross Barkley miraculously escaped a booking in the sixth minute for a late, crude tackle on Can. Barkley has history in this fixture. In the season’s earlier Merseyside derby in December, Barkley was extremely fortunate to remain on the pitch after a potentially leg-breaking tackle on Jordan Henderson.

Liverpool had a lead within eight minutes. Some interplay between the front three of Firmino, Coutinho and Mane eventually saw Mane with room to shoot from the left side of the box, where he rolled the ball past a helpless Joel Robles into Everton’s goal.

Everton must have been sick to death of the Senegalese, who of course scored the stoppage-time winner in Liverpool’s 1-0 win in December.

Against the run of play, it was Everton who scored next as Liverpool’s deficiency in defending set-pieces reared itself for the upteenth time. Jagielka got a flick-on at the near-post and the ball fell for Pennington after a goal-mouth scramble, who couldn’t miss from point-blank range.

Liverpool’s lead was soon restored by Coutinho. The Brazilian magician made a trademark run from his left wing, cutting inside defenders with ease and curling a shot into the top-right hand corner of the net.

Liverpool took their goal-advantage into the break, but should have had a man advantage as well. Barkley left a foot in a challenge with Dejan Lovren towards the end of the first half and received yellow. Had he been booked for his previous challenge on Can, Barkley would have been off the pitch.

The second-half started poorly for Liverpool. Goalscorer Sadio Mane had to be substituted after a nasty incident where his knee and ankle twisted unnaturally beneath him. He will likely miss several weeks with his injury.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Reds however. Mane was replaced by Origi, who soon doubled Liverpool’s lead after a through-pass from Coutinho.

The remaining 30 minutes of play passed without significant incident, save for some poor challenges from Ashley Williams which could have resulted in red cards. Everton have failed to beat Liverpool for 14 consecutive matches, which is just one shy of their all-time record set from 1972-78.

Survival Guide to the ‘Silly Season’

Liverpool’s season has ended.

It is truly a grim realisation to come to each May. Fortunately, commercialism has ensured that the off-season is becoming shorter every year; our first pre-season game is in a little over five weeks, but it is an off-season nonetheless.

Every fan has their own coping mechanisms. Some will satiate their football cravings with the European Championships in France (at the time of writing, 12 Liverpool players have been named in their respective nations provisional squads for the tournament.) Some will devote their time to sports closer to home in Australia. Some will even go to the lengths of spending the extra time with their friends and family.

Personally, I like to immerse myself daily in the myriad of transfer speculation which occurs annually in the European summer (the English tabloids are my favourite – I consider it my guilty pleasure).

The vast majority of this ‘news’ is absolutely ridiculous. If a manager looks at his star player the wrong way, dozens of articles will appear claiming a deal is imminent for him to switch to a rival team. Players following, or unfollowing, a club’s twitter account becomes back page news. Previously unknown players who exceed expectations at the Euros will be linked with moves to Munich or Madrid. Its not hard to see why these months are known as the ‘silly season.’

Fans, myself included, will once again fall for the trap of believing some of these stories and begin to speculate just how good the next season will be. We will be teased about Mario Gotze as we have been for months until he either signs at Bayern or somewhere else. We’ll become experts on players that we know very little about and convince ourselves that each signing is just what we’ve been missing.

The odd outrageous link will appear, the most recent being Gonzalo Higuain’s suggestion that he’d love to play for Jurgen Klopp. If that’s not confirmation that he will be wearing red next season then I don’t know what is!

But there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. Once the signings are finalised and the obligatory photos of players signing a blank piece of paper/holding the club’s scarf aloft at Anfield/awkwardly holding a jersey with their name on it have been taken, we fans can be optimistic. We can truly believe that we will be better than we were before and that this will be our year. Call it optimism or blind faith, but this passion is what makes following a football club such a unique and incredible experience.

 

Staying in touch with the Reds

Supporting a club from the other side of the world presents its unique challenges. Fortunately we now live in an age where we aren’t obscured from what’s going on at Liverpool because of distance. This list of twitter accounts will ensure you stay in the loop of everything that goes on at Anfield and get every perspective of the major issues.

Subscribe to the list here: LFC News Feed

Liverpool FC (@LFC)

The club’s account is your first point of call for all official club statements. It also gives exclusive access to photos of training at Melwood, the manger’s press conferences, the player’s dressing room and more.

LFC Australia & NZ (@LFCANZ)

The club’s official account down under. Generally retweets content from the international LFC page, but also gives useful information on match broadcasts and kick-off times specific to Australia.

Premier League (@premierleague)

Stay up to date with everything happening in the league. Keep an eye on opponent’s results and watch Liverpool soar up the table!

Liverpool FC News (@LivEchoLFC)

The Liverpool ECHO’s dedicated LFC news page. It gives hourly updates of everything happening at Liverpool, so you won’t miss a thing.

LFC Melbourne (@LFCMelbourne)

LFC Melbourne isn’t run by the club. It’s the official account of the Melbourne Liverpool supporters club. If you’re from another part of the country then don’t worry, each major city has its own supporters club to follow.

Bourke Street Imperial (@The_Impy)

The Impy is LFC’s official Melbourne base and screens live all matches to its patrons. Here you’ll find information regarding its events. Again, if you’re not from Melbourne then each city will have its own pub to watch the Reds with fellow supporters.

Liverpool Australia (@LFC_Australia)

Another page run by fans. They give a wrap-up of the day’s news out of Liverpool in a much more Aussie friendly time-zone.

This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield)

This is Anfield is an award-winning fan website based in the UK. They provide news and opinion in articles, videos and pod casts. I personally thoroughly enjoy their passionate insight and analysis and highly recommend that you follow them.

The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV)

The Redmen TV describes itself as “uncensored LFC television.” They provide zealous debate reactions to LFC news from their own panel members in the form of videos. Their interviews with fans leaving Anfield after matches are a highlight.

Jim Boardman (@JimBoardman)

Boardman writes about Liverpool for The Daily Mirror. Has a wealth of knowledge and experience as a football writer and gives excellent insight in his columns.

Jamie Carragher (@Carra23)

Admittedly, there is some annoying Sky promotion on Carra’s account. It’s worth putting up with though, because he tweets the way he played; honest and uncompromising. He gives plenty of (often hilarious) opinion on Liverpool and football in general.

I’ve left the current players of this list. Their twitter activity tends to be a bit on the safe side because their frightened to say anything controversial. For the purpose of this list they’re not very useful, but that shouldn’t stop you from following them to show support for our men in red!

Magical Cup Run Culminates in Basel

Set your alarms Reds. Our magical 2016 Europa League run culminates in the final tomorrow morning at 4.45 AEST.

Overall our season has been, again, mediocre. An eighth place finish in a league which was as wide open as we have seen for a long time is not satisfactory. But this disappointment has been masked by the charisma of Jurgen Klopp and the stardust he has been able to sprinkle onto our squad on Thursday nights.

Its truly had it all this cup run. The indignity of nights at FC Sion amd Rubin Kazan (with respect to those clubs, we expect to dine at Europe’s top table). The dour performance against Augsburg. The sweetest of victories over United. The heartstopping, impossible comeback against Dortmund. The destruction of Villareal at Anfield.

The constant has been Liverpool victory. It has been brought about by a newfound, relentless attitude which reflects our firebrand German boss.

There is a genuine belief amongst fans, and it seems players, that the club is on the verge of another great era.

In football, success is not measured in goodwill or positivity. Even winning becomes empty after a time if it is not supported by something more substantial (just ask an Arsenal fan).

Trophies are the measure of greatness for a football club. Our memories of Steven Gerrard’s exploits in the Champions League and FA cup finals are now over a decade old. We only have one League Cup to boast about since. For a club of Liverpool’s stature, that is not acceptable.

Tomorrow could be the beginning of a change in fortunes for Liverpool Football Club. Champions League qualification is a prize for the winner, which would be a significant boost in terms of recruitment. The confidence gained from such a win can do wonders for the squad.

The thrilling road to the final has been uplifting for Liverpool, regardless of tomorrow’s result. But there is nothing quite like watching the red confetti rain down on our newest piece of silverware.

Firmino stokes Gotze fire

Just in case Reds fans needed any more excitement at the moment, Roberto Firmino has conceded that he has imagined playing with Bayern Munich maestro Mario Götze.

Speaking to BILD Sport ahead of Thursday morning’s Europa League final, Firmino believes the German International would fit in well at Anfield.

“Also Götze I still know well from my time in Germany, when I played with Hoffenheim against Borussia Dortmund and Bayern. He has incredible qualities in attack. He would fit in well with us and will surely help us with his class also.”

This news comes after reports out of Germany suggest that incoming Bayern manager Carlo Ancelotti has told Götze he is free to leave in the summer.

Götze’s relationship with Jurgen Klopp is well-documented. A victory against Sevilla on Thursday would ensure Champions League qualification for next season and place Liverpool firmly in pole position to land the World Cup winner’s signature.

As fans we have been left crestfallen before having dared to dream of such stars wearing red; Alexis Sanchez, Willian and Christian Eriksen are recent examples. But Klopp’s paternal relationship with Götze means that a Coutinho-Firmino-Götze attacking trident may be less far-fetched than it seems.

 

Read the full interview here (like Götze, its German!)

Reds Storm to Basel

The Reds have advanced to the Europa League final in rampant fashion following their 3-1 aggregate win over Villarreal.

Our spirits were buoyed an hour before kick-off when our two best non-Brazilian players returned to the starting XI; Emre Can recovered from an ankle problem and Daniel Sturridge was restored after Jurgen Klopp strangely chose not to feature him in the first leg.

Both returned in imperious form. Can dominated from the outset in the space afforded to him by Villarreal’s rigid 4-4-2 and Sturridge was a constant menace to the defence with his clever positioning.

It was Sturridge’s positioning which brought about the Reds’ opener. True, the defending was poor and he didn’t get the final touch, but his presence in the penalty area cause enough confusion for the Kop to suck the ball into the net from the Yellow Submarine skipper’s leg.

But there was no doubting the England striker for Liverpool’s second goal of the tie, which ultimately would win it. His positioning again proved decisive. While the finish itself was slightly fortunate, the celebration was simply brilliant. The jubilant face and flailing arms were infectious, certainly to this supporter who found himself following Sturridge to the corner flag from his lounge room.

The Yellow Submarine was well and truly sunk by this stage. Victor Ruiz was sent off for a second yellow card and Adam Lallana added a sweetener for Liverpool but the damage had been done.

In truth, the match was won even before kick-off. After Villarreal took a slight advantage from the first leg, Klopp warned that there was still plenty to play for:

“Sorry, but it is not over. You have to come to Anfield too.”

His words proved prophetic, as Villarreal seemed overawed by the atmospheric occasion. It started from the top with their manager Marcelinho. He out shone Klopp on the sideline in the first leg, constantly gesturing, remonstrating and using his technical area as a launching pad rather than a restriction. He was insufferable.

But it was a changed man who arrived at Anfield a week later. He was timid and reserved. His attitude seemed to affect his players, or vice-versa. The captain Bruno set the tone with an early own goal, goalkeeper Alphonse Areola couldn’t catch a cold and Roberto Soldado returned to his peak Tottenham form (dreadful).

But as poor as the Spanish side were on the night, Liverpool were exceptional. All 11 players delivered for the vociferous Anfield support and continued the spellbinding run all the way to the Europa League Final, ensuring one more 5am wake-up call for their Australian supporters.