Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Live Thoughts: Liverpool vs Everton (Premier League)

I covered this match live. Here are my unedited thoughts on the match between Liverpool and Everton.

Hey and thanks for joining me for my first Live Thoughts post in just over two weeks. It's been that long for a few reasons. Firstly, I've been ill recently quite a lot. I'm ill now. I've got conjunctivitis. It's fun. Hey ho. Secondly I'm cutting down on how many matches I'm covering, and I'll have a proper schedule next season about what matches I'll cover. As for this season, I'll do what I can, but it's not going to be easy as I have a lot on my plate personally at the moment. And lastly, I wanted to cover Liverpool/Arsenal but I was really busy that day so I couldn't, not that I missed much as we lost, just like we lost against Sunderland. We've only won one league match in 2012. Hell, if the league started on January 1st, we would be in the relegation zone (5 points from 8 games). It's a poor run of form this year bar the cup games. I loved the Carling Cup win. I'm loving our FA Cup run. But our league form needs to improve. If we lose today Everton eclipse us in the league. That's how bad our form has gotten. We need to win, for our season as well as Merseyside bragging rights. 

Here are the teams:

Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Enrique, Skrtel, Carragher, Spearing, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Suarez, Carroll. Subs: Doni, Shelvey, Maxi, Flanagan, Kuyt, Adam, Coates.

Johnson is still injured, but it's nice to see Gerrard starting again. It's a shame he got injured on England duty but at least it's not too serious. He missed one match and came on as a sub against Sunderland. Suarez, Carroll and Gerrard start again. I'm really happy about that, they look really good up front together and click nicely. I just hope they can score the goals expected. It's been our major problem this season. This is a team that can win today - no - that should win today.

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Coleman, Fellaini, Pienaar, Rodwell, Stracqualursi, Anichebe. Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Jelavic, Drenthe, Cahill, Neville, Osman.

This is a weakened Everton side, especially for attack. Stracqualursi and Anichebe have scored 6 goals between them. I don't know what else to say, the team is strong in defence and midfield, but shouldn't pose too much a threat up front. They're there for the taking in a certain way, but definitely shouldn't be underestimated.

3' - Slow start at the moment, with Liverpool looking slightly more threatening. 

6' - GERRARD! Great save by Howard! Henderson with the follow up and it was a lovely tackle by Rodwell to stop him! So close!

8' - Pienaar! Over the bar. Leighton Baines has a lovely darting run down the left wing and cuts in parallel to the goal line, he squares it to Pienaar and thankfuly it's over. 

11' - SUAREZ! Another great save by Howard! Reina being the amazing sweeper keeper he is smacks the ball across the pitch and Andy Carroll flicks it on beautifully to the path of Suarez who was free in the box, Suarez tries to lift it over Howard but the United States keeper more than met to it. That was excellent by Carroll and Suarez then! 

13' - Three shots so far, all of them on target too. 100% shots on target rate yo! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it! Okay, I'm kidding, but it's nice that we're actually hitting the target, a problem we've had all season. 

15' - It's the 10 year anniversary match for David Moyes next week. I just want to go on record here by saying David Moyes is a phenomenal manager, and has done an amazing job at Everton. Kudos to Everton for keeping with the same guy for 10 years, it's a rarity in todays sack friendly management system. Happy anniversary Mr Moyes. 

18' - Well we're playing the better football so far that's for sure. We haven't quite got hold of the match yet though. 

21' - They just showed a replay of Carroll shoving Baines, almost hitting him with his elbow. The ref never saw that. He could have been off for that, that was nasty. 

24' - Possession - 57%/43% in favour of Liverpool. Unsurprising really. The only threat really coming from Everton are Baines' good runs down the left flank, and Pienaar's trickery in and around the box, most that's been nullified.

27' - Everton are starting to put pressure on Liverpool now. They're not dominant or anything, but they're seeing more of the ball all of a sudden. 

29' - A poor pass back from Tony Hibbert that Suarez chases goes to Howard, who's clearances somehow gets back to Suarez who's on his own up front! Tony Hibbert tackles and it's clean as a whistle,  before eventually the flag goes up as it was Carroll who passed to Suarez who was offside.

32' - Pienaar crosses into the Liverpool box and Anichebe brings the ball down, but is unable to turn to shoot.

33' - GOAL! GERRARD! What a goal! A lovely bit of attacking play involving Suarez ends with Martin Kelly in the box who piledrives the ball straight at Tim Howard, it goes to Gerrard who curls it round Howard and the defence! Absolutely brilliant, an elegant finish in his 400th Premier League appearance! 

37' - KELLY! Just wide! Another great run by our young Scouse right back, and he almost scores again! This time it was wide of Howard's right post. 

40' - We're really on top of Everton at the moment, after that little lapse where we gave them a sniff of possession we've gone for blood almost. 87 Premier League goals in 400 games for Steven Gerrard. 

43' - There's only been 3 fouls so far in this match, considering it's the league fixture that's produced more red cards than any other in the history of English football, that's not bad going. We haven't seen a very aggressive game so far. That being said, I can see the second half being a different story.

45' - One minute of added time.

45+1 - Half time.

It wasn't the best quality fourty-five minutes of football you'll see but we got the goal we definitely deserved. For a change. How many times have we got to half time deserving in front and we're not? Hopefully we can not only keep this lead, but we can build on it. We're definitely the better side at the moment, we played the better football and had the better chances. Gerrard's goal was sublime however, if you get a chance to see it please do, it's an elegant curling effort into the back of the net. Martin Kelly has had two great chances, as has Suarez, Henderson and Carroll. Things are looking good at the moment! Let's hope there's more good news for Liverpool in the second half!

48' - Rigid opening of the second half at the moment. 

50' - GOAL! Gerrard again! Henderson cuts the ball nicely to Suarez who makes a nuisance of himself in the box, darting his run into the box to the path of Gerrard who just smacks it into the net at short range! I don't know if Suarez quite laid that off, but Gerrard just banged that in! Excellent finish!

52' - CARROLL! So close! Suarez once again running between the lines, lays it nicely to Carroll who shoots just wide of Howard's left post. So so close.

53' - No Liverpool player has scored a hat trick against Everton at Anfield in nearly 80 years. That's some statistic. Hopefully Gerrard can make history tonight.

54' - KELLY! Just couldn't stretch far enough to make the clinical touch to score! Downing whips in a good cross and for some reason once again, Martin Kelly is up front and almost scores for the third time! 

55' - Steven Pienaar goes into the book for a tackle on Henderson.

58' - Martin Kelly once again makes a nuisance of himself as Carroll flicks a ball to him with his head, Kelly tussles with Distin for a bit before losing the ball for a goal kick. Kelly attacking-wise, has had a great game. He's hardly made any defensive mistakes to boot either. 

60' - Rodwell! Cleared by Jose Enrique. That was a short range effort that Enrique dealt with, easily Everton's best chance so far. 

61' - Triple Everton Substitution: Royston Drenthe, Leon Osman and Nikica Jelavic come on for Sheamus Coleman, Denis Stracqualursi and Victor Anichebe. Big changes for Everton, who are obviously trying to salvage something from the match. 

64' - Free kick for Liverpool in a decent area is dealt with by the wall. 

67' - Oh, and that's 88 goals in 400 Premier League matches for Gerrard now. 

69' - Carroll lays the ball to Suarez who tries the impossible by shooting round the keeper with the outside of his foot, it went wide. Nice try though. 

72' - Liverpool Substitution: Dirk Kuyt comes on for Jordan Hendeson. Henderson had a decent game today, he's looked a little poor of form in recent matches but today some of his passes were key, I'm sure he had a say in both goals somewhere. 

75' - Carroll goes down after a tussle with Hibbert and the Liverpool fans think penalty, but Phil Dowd laughs it off. It definitely wasn't a penalty. Not that we need it, we'll probably miss it anyway! 

78' - Downing crosses a long ball forward and it's heading towards Suarez, and Leighton Baines brings him down on the edge of the penalty area. Phil Dowd actually shows the red for a split second, but gave a yellow card. I think that's a good decision personally, just because the game has not been malicious at all and it'd ruin what's been a nice Merseyside Derby if he flashed the red. Was it a red? It's debatable. But I'm happy Phil Dowd didn't give it. 

80' - Gerrard and Pienaar jump for the ball and Gerrard elbows the South African in the face, it wasn't intentional but Pienaar is down. I don't think Dowd is giving a card. It wasn't intentional as I said. 

83' - Royston Drenthe is next in the book for a bad tackle on Downing. 

86' - I'm sure they said that more than a third of all of Everton's goals have been scored in the last 10 minutes. That's some statistic if true.

88' - "You'll Never Walk Alone" is now being sung around the stadium. I can't remember the last time I've heard it at the end of a match at Anfield actually! It's been a few months I'm sure, we've had too many draws at home this season.

90' - Four minutes of added time now, and they start with Tony Hibbert going into the book for kicking the ball at Jose Enrique.

90+2' - Jose Enrique goes in the book as well. That's a bit unfair. 

90+2' - GOAL! STEVEN GERRARD GETS A HAT TRICK! Excellent play between Suarez and Gerrard, it starts with Gerrard who bombs down the pitch and lays the ball beautifully for Suarez, who gets into a tangle a little bit, but manages to lay the ball back to Gerrard who shoots an easy goal!

90+4' - Full time!

Steven Gerrard is the first player in 76 years to score a hat trick against Everton at Anfield. Congrats to that man, the legend. I'd say this is the proper return of Gerrard, he's been influential in many games since his long term injury, but this is the first time Gerrard has been so clinical in front of goal. He was unstoppable today. If you thought Gerrard was finished, think again, he was awesome today. Kudos have to go to Carroll and Suarez as well, who were brilliant in attack again and helped Gerrard get his hat trick. Another person who deserves a mention is Martin Kelly who was brilliant as a right back and a striker for parts of the match too.

I'll finish with this. I wouldn't say this was a spectacular display for Liverpool. It wasn't. But it's the display we needed, it was the display that we've seen so many times this season, dominating possession and open play. The big difference? We scored the goals we set up. We haven't had enough chances scored this season. It's a fact. But Gerrard's hat trick hopefully suggests that we can build upon this. We make so many chances and they go to waste too often. A 3-0 win against Everton hopefully means we can now keep those performances up, but score the goals that the displays deserve. That's it from me today, have a good night.

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