Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Live Thoughts: Manchester City vs Liverpool (Carling Cup)

I covered this match live. Here are my unedited thoughts when Liverpool took on Manchester City in the Carling Cup semi final.

Hey there and welcome to another Live Thoughts post. I haven't been writing much recently because I have a lot going on in my personal life. I have a lot planned but my time to get things done has decreased a lot. I also have Skyrim now and naturally I'm erm, addicted. Anyways this is a very important match and a win or a draw tonight will make the game very exciting when we take City back to Anfield.

If you're new to following Liverpool this is probably a great feeling for you. However if you're a long term Kopite, you'll know this feeling very well. It's a nice feeling. Dare I say it, a nostalgic feeling. This Carling Cup semi final, over two legs, is exactly the type of game Liverpool want to be part of week in, week out again. It's like the old Champions League classics we had from two years ago to seven years ago. Those were great times, and it's only now that it's not a regular thing at Anfield do we realise how much we miss it. That's why we need to make the most of this Carling Cup semi final. Not that I don't have faith in Liverpool, King Kenny or the owners, but who knows when we will be back in the Champions League. No one knows the answer and while we all hope it's next season, we can't bank on it. So let's make the most of this Carling Cup semi final folks, it'll be a great set of matches, providing we don't get our behinds handed to us anyway!

Here are the teams:

Manchester City: Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, de Jong, A Johnson, Milner, Balotelli, Aguero. Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Onuoha, Hargreaves, Nasri, Dzeko.

Aguero ripped our defence to pieces last week and we need to make sure that doesn't happen again. What Balotelli will turn up today is anyone's guess. Dzeko also was dangerous last week and surely will come on later on. This is such a strong attacking line up. We have our work cut out for us tonight and we need to make sure we don't have lapses in concentration like we did last time. It's time for us to show the reason why our defence was the strongest in the Premier League for the first half of the season.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Kelly, Downing, Henderson, Gerrard, Spearing, Bellamy, Carroll. Subs: Doni, Enrique, Coates, Kuyt, Carragher, Adam, Shelvey. 

It's as strong a line up we can probably offer. Enrique on the bench is interesting, does he have a knock? I didn't hear anything. But Kelly comes on in the left back position in his place, otherwise it's a strong Liverpool line up. Gerrard back in the side is going to make a big difference, and hopefully he'll be THE difference today. We'll see.

1' - My bad, Johnson is playing on the left not Kelly. Both can play both positions well so I don't mind, as long as they're happy. 

3' - Great chance for Carroll! He loses Savic and is through on goal but his shot is saved to Joe Hart's feet!

4' - Balotelli makes a run down the right wing and Skrtel times his tackle very well. Excellent tackle. 

7' - We're actually quite well at the moment, City are taking their time to influence the game. I hope it doesn't backfire, but we're looking good. 

10' - Gerrard takes a nice shot from distance and it was close to going in! I think Hart would have got it anyway! 

10' - Another great save from Hart for Carroll! Another corner and Agger WINS US A PENALTY! 

12' - GOAL! Gerrard scores from the spot! Too easy. Joe Hart went in the right direction but Gerrard's shot was low and hard to his left. Perfect spot. Fourth goal of the season for Gerrard And we're a goal up away from home! 

15' - A decent City attack, Adam Johnson whips in a cross for Balotelli and Reina punches it away, but only in the direction of Aguero who's half volley is poor by his standards. 

18' - Carroll takes the ball to the left wing and lacks control to keep it, and Savic intercepts with ease. The City fans cheer sarcastically. At least Carroll is trying! 

21' - Spearing has gone down and Charlie Adam has been told to get ready to come on. Not good. 

22' - Liverpool Substitution: Jay Spearing walks off gingerly and Adam takes his place. No news on the injury Spearing has at the moment. 

23' - It looks like Spearing's hamstring. He walked off better than most people with that injury do. Hopefully it's only a few weeks rather than the usual six for this type of injury. 

26' - Gerrard is playing very deep, spraying the ball to the attacking third. He's been doing what Lucas has been doing all season. It'd be awesome when we have Lucas back and Gerrard can go forward more. But for a match of this magnitude, having Gerrard back is important. He can always go forward when we have dominant possession. 

28' - Adam and Balotelli collide and it's a free kick for City. Adam appears to be saying something to the Italian and he retaliates. Luckily James Milner is there to stop Balotelli from reacting for too long. I really hope Adam didn't say anything racist because I'm fed up of the controversy at the club.

31' - Possession is 50%/50% at the moment. We've definitely been the better side, although the game has calmed down recently. There hasn't been too many major chances in honesty. 

34' - I just realised, Balotelli is captain for City. Really? Okay. 

34' - Carroll! Just wide of the post. A very good effort, Kelly crosses from the right and Carroll connects very well, he's not that far into the box but it was a very good effort. I wasn't sure Hart would have got to it. 

37' - I'm getting the feeling City might end this half the stronger team. I feel them starting to look dangerous. 

38' - Manchester City: Substitution: Balotelli comes off with an ankle injury, and Samir Nasri takes his place.

40' - Downing and Henderson combine well to put City's defence under pressure, it came to nothing but it was good to get a nice few interceptions there. Psychological pressure in football is very important. 

42' - Nasri takes a shot and it deflects and a lovely save by Reina! Nasri does something that City have barely done in the past 42 minutes and that's actually take a shot at our goal.

44' - A lovely run by Micah Richards, he nudges Glen Johnson out of the way and goes down the left wing and a brilliant cross to Milner who scuffs the shot terribly! What an awful attempt that was by Milner! Great run by Richards though. 

45' - Three minutes of added time. 

45+2' - Adam Johnson wins a free kick right outside the box just before half time. Last kick of the match I'd say. 

45+3' - Johnson takes the free kick and it curled very nicely, but it was thankfully, ultimately, over the bar. Half time. 

This has been a good half for us so far. Defensively we've looked pretty solid and we got the penalty early on. But it's early days, we need to keep tight in the back and go forward when we can. Now that we have a goal advantage we have something to defend. We need to keep this very strong side at bay, and we have so far. 45 minutes of hard work for Liverpool, and hopefully, even harder work for City.

48' - One thing I've noticed today is that we're not giving them much space on the wings to cross the ball. Two of our goals last week were conceded from good delivery from corners and the wider areas. It's good. 

51' - No major danger at the moment but once again you are getting the feeling City might start to take the game to us soon. I certainly hope not of course, and that we start to hopefully put them under more pressure. It'd be a brilliant result if we score a second and don't concede.

53' - Aguero gets through our defence for the first time in the match but Skrtel recovers and City earn a corner. 

54' - The game has really up a gear the past few minutes, both sides are going for it. The first half for the most part was quite a bland affair for the unbiased fan. 

55' - Kelly struggles a little and passes back to Reina but Aguero intercepts and is on his own! He takes on Reina on the right hand side of the penalty box but thankfully shoots over. That was very poor from Kelly, thankfully it was dealt with enough by Reina. 

58' - RICHARDS! Excellent save by Reina! Richards gets a clean header from the corner and Reina saves low to his body. Brilliant stop, a stop thoroughly redeeming from his mishap last week. 

59' - Liverpool Substitution: Jose Enrique comes on for Stewart Downing. A tactical decision obviously, it's welcome by me. 

62' - They show Vincent Kompany on screen, they've definitely missed him today. Kompany was absolutely amazing against us last week, it was welcome news that he was suspended as a biased Liverpool fan.

64' - A cross comes in from the right hand side and Johnson at short range chests it down for Reina. It was a bit nervy but ultimately a great defensive movement. 

65' - A City attack ends with Aguero taking on three Red defenders and turning them inside out, but the shot was tame and saved by Reina comfortably. 

65' - Manchester City Substitution: Adam Johnson, who's not had the best of games, comes off for Edin Dzeko. 

68' - I just want to say, we've defended absolutely brilliantly for the past 68 minutes. Very little has come past us and what has, Reina has dealt with or the shot was poor. It's been a fantastic display from the Pool so far. 22 minutes to go. 

71' - Manchester City Substitution: Nigel De Jong comes off and Aleksandar Kolarov comes on.  De Jong is another player who's been sub par today, in fact, I'd say most of the City players have been. It's good for us obviously.

72' - All the City subs have been used by the way. We have one left. 

75' - Well the game hasn't been the best to watch but as long as we win does it matter? The quality of matches go out the window when you win the big ones. 

77' - Ball possession for the second half is now 65%/35% in City's favour. You wouldn't think it based on the fact that they've barely threatened all match. 

79' - Liverpool Substitution: Craig Bellamy comes off for Jamie Carragher. Another defensive move that I'm in favour for. Bellamy has been surprisingly quiet today. Carroll has been more effective which is saying something. 

81' - City are trying to put some pressure on us but we're defending very well. A tame Milner shot is deflected and goes for a goal kick. 

84' - I just can't believe how crap City have been today. Sorry. I'm just being frank. I just hope they don't prove me wrong now of course. 

85' - Samir Nasri gets a yellow card for getting in Carra's face. Carra's usually the heated type of player but he kept his cool with considerable ease in that situation. 

88' - Liverpool fans start up "You'll Never Walk Alone". It must be the end of a Liverpool win surely? I hope so. 

90' - Three minutes of added time. 

90' - AGUERO! Just over the bar! A free kick from the left and Aguero connects perfectly, but it's just over the bar. Relief!

90+3' - Full time! 

Well it wasn't the best match you'll see all season and we won by 1 goal but WOO! We're hopefully one step closer to a cup final! An away win in the Carling Cup doesn't guarantee anything but it's definitely going to make the match easier at Anfield. I really want us to win this cup. Yes it's the Carling Cup. Yes it's not the Premier League. But we'll take any trophy and then move on from there I'd say. And a win against City at their stadium is a great result, especially as they beat us 3-0 last week.

My man of the match? Glen Johnson actually. He was defensively sound today, and while I haven't really mentioned him much he did a job at left back and crunched into a lot of tackles, disrupting the play considerably. Everyone goes on about his attacking ability from the back but today he proved he can defend well. All the defence was great today, Skrtel had a very good game too and Reina made some good saves. It was a professional performance.

City were awful. The leaders of the Premier League should have done much better today. They barely turned up. I think it was an off day, I'm sure they'll be more than ready when they come to Anfield. The game at Anfield will be difficult, but I'm sure the Kop will be rocking, because as I said, it's like a Champions League fixture of old. We'll be ready.

That's it from me today, have a good night!

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