The LFC Under 18 team will be in Doha at the end of the month. I have been asked to organise a meet and greet with the team, but only for Official Liverpool Supporters Club members. We will also be allowed access to them during one of their training sessions! If you are not a member, and would like to take part, then go to http://www.liverpoolfc.com/membership/benefits/membership and get your membership number.
The new GM of the Hyatt will be starting on Sunday, so it is very important that the Muscat Reds justify the continued existence of the Standard Chartered lounge, by making sure it is busy on match days. Even if you cannot attend, please encourage others to attend, AND suggest the lounge to new Reds!
The Radisson will be opening the sports bar early so that we can watch the game, but they will not be able to serve alcohol until 5 pm.
Liverpool begin a sequence of tough away fixtures in the league with a trip to Old Trafford on Sunday.
The Reds suffered a 1-2 defeat earlier in the season at Anfield despite Steven Gerrard giving us the lead just after half-time. Rafael equalised on 51’ then a late and controversial Robin van Persie penalty secured all three points for the Red Devils. However the Reds really dominated the midfield in the first matchup, before Shelvey was sent off.
We lost the corresponding fixture last season by the same score line courtesy of a brace by Wayne Rooney, with Luis Suarez pulling one back on 80 minutes to no avail. We’ve lost our last three league visits to Old Trafford, with the 4-1 victory over Manchester Utd in 2009 our only win from our last eight trips there in the Premier League.
This match has the potential to be a high scoring affair, with both sides not known for their stingy defences – Liverpool have eight clean sheets this season (three in our last four games) and conceded 26 goals in 21 games, compared to Manchester Utd’s five clean sheets and 28 goals conceded – while nine of the Red Devils’ opponents have scored two goals or more against them, compared to ten of our opponents scoring two goals or more against us this season.
In our last six league games either we or our opposition have scored three goals in each match. We fired three against Sunderland, QPR and West Ham and scored four against Fulham, while in between conceding three against Stoke and Aston Villa. Manchester Utd have scored three goals or more in 13 of their 21 league games this season and in Robin van Persie boast the league’s top scorer with 16 goals from 21 appearances (three as a substitute), while the Dutchman has also been credited with six assists.
The good thing for Liverpool is that their two key attacking talents are in form ahead of this tricky trio of matches. Gerrard (with three goals and six assists) and Suarez (with six and one) have nine goals and seven assists between them in their last six appearances, so there’s definitely hope for the Reds yet in these tough encounters.
POST MATCH REVIEW
The Mansfield game was a real banana skin. A highly motivated team of part timers looking to show case their talents to the world, and try and get their break into the big time, against a team of highly paid part timers looking to showcase their talents and try and get their break into the first team. Sturridge started his LFC career in great fashion scoring on 7 minutes, but then missed 2 great chances, getting booked and coming off for Suarez. Luis immediately caused controversy by scoring a goal that rebounded off his hand. The referee deemed it accidental and allowed the goal to stand, but that
didn’t stop the cheat tag being thrown at him, and being compared unfavourably to Miroslav Klose.
Brad Jones made a case for man of the match, saving several goals. He had twice as many saves to make as the Mansfield goalkeeper, and the defence was horrible. Around the 80th minute, a long free kecik was floated to the edge of the box, and rather than let the defence deal with the ball, Jones ran out 12 yards to punch it away. That was a clear indication that he had lost all faith in the defence to protect him.
Defenders: Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson
Midfielders: Lucas, Gerrard (c), Shelvey, Sterling
Strikers: Suarez, Sturridge
As usual, this game will be hard to predict. For a start, the formation is not a certainty. The usual 4-3-3 may give way to the 4-5-1 or the 3-5-2 BR has used in the past. I expect ManU to press us hard and high up the pitch. Wonder whether it might be worth playing three CBs with Johnson and Downing as wing backs? Away from home with strong opposition, he may be tempted to use 2 wing backs, which would mean Downing would play instead of Wisdom. Up front, BR may decide that Sturridge starts at 9, with Suarez and Sterling as the supporting creators, or BR may just stick with one up top, which would be Suarez, and Sturridge on the bench. In midfield, it might be a case of either Allen or Lucas, and I believe Lucas will be chosen as he has been the better player in recent games, and if it is a choice between Hendo and Shelvey, I believe Shelvey will get the nod. This game will be for the brave. Those who are willing to stand up to thousands of people hurling abuse, and use that abuse to get taller and stronger and faster. Suarez and Gerrard and I believe Shelvey are those type of men. Hendo and Downing are not. BR will have to carefully weigh that against the need for cool heads. If we can manage to keep 11 men on the pitch we have a better than average chance of winning, but red cards are a feature of this fixture with only the Everton derby resulting in more dismissals than any other game in the whole premier league!
Liverpool’s Premier League record against Manchester Utd at Old Trafford:
P: 20 W: 4 D: 4 L: 12 F: 18 A: 32 GD: -14 Pts: 16
Liverpool’s biggest victories and defeats v Manchester Utd at Old Trafford:
Biggest away win (Premier League): 4-1 (14/3/2009)
Biggest away defeat (Premier League): 0-4 (5/4/2003)
LFC have not won at old toilet since 2009…watch this as a reminder
Jamie Carragher has made the most appearances against Manchester Utd with 33, while Steven Gerrard has scored seven goals in 29 games against the Red Devils. Dick Forshaw is our most prolific scorer against the Old Trafford outfit, with eight goals from 8 appearances.
Unsurprisingly, there has been very little transfer activity between the two clubs with only 4 going to the Red Devils (Ted Savage, Tom Chorlton, Tom Miller and Tom Reid) and just four Red Devils have come to L4. (Jackie Sheldon, Fred Hopkin, Tom McNulty and Phil Chisnall).
Defending the wings
Preventing scoring chances
Being caught on the counterattack
Howe win 65%
away win 20%
Tom Ince – still on going
Arda – Atletico Madrid, Turkish international, midfielder
Andreas Granqvist – Genoa defender, Sweden international,
Modibo Diakite – Lazio, free transfer, 25-year-old
Kevin Strootman – £18m, Holland international, PSV, 22-year-old,
Thanks to http://tomkinstimes.com