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Sunday November 6th  2021

Premier League

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (2nd) vs. Reading (14th)

This was the late game, and as a result we had slipped behind Chelsea into second place. We had this as a game in hand, and as such a chance to move back top. We made a number of changes with Crisetig, Yarmolenko, Romani and A. Lopez all getting the afternoon off. Clark, Kemble, Vito and Salva getting the nod to start.

We were slow to start but eventually we got a grip on the game, and we took the lead in the 20th minute, a long Galarza run ended up with the ball being fed into Salva just inside the box, and he turned and shot low, past the keeper, and into the corner. Lagator headed in a Kemble cross in the 23rd minute via an almighty deflection off former Liverpool fullback, Jack Robinson, and it was suddenly very comfortable.

It was three just a couple of minutes later, a fabulous flowing move, that culminated in Salva going past the last man before hammering it past the keeper. Vito with a strong run down the right was the provider for Salva’s hatrick in the 33rd minute, a header this one, powered in. This lad really did want to make an impression today, and he was certainly doing that.

Half time came and went, all superlatives from me, and they went back out in the right frame of mind but they met a Reading side quite obviously in receipt of a half time rocket. But they couldn’t break us down, though Lezcano did have to make a couple of sharp saves in order to do it. Then, on 65, we extended our lead, Salva again this one a free kick curled around the end of the wall and into the top corner, an absolute picture of a goal.  And that was all we needed, we ran out comfortable winners and back on top of the table.

Final Score: Liverpool 5-0 Reading

Scorers : Salva 4, og

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Leandro Salva

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Schiffman, Lagator, Lebron, Clark, Gandola, Kemble, Galarza, Vito, Salva

Well, that gives me a real dilemma doesn’t it. Alfredo Lopez is my main striker, but if Leandro Salva is banging in four in the one appearance I’ve given him in recent times then what do I do ? Play one or play both ? If I play one, then which one ? if I play both do I try and fit them both into the current formations, or do I try something new in the middle of the season ? who drops out ? There are more questions than answers. Like someone may well have once said, “Trying to build a team is like building an aeroplane whilst it’s moving” . A someone else once said. “Good Luck with that.”

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Friday November 12th  2021

International Friendly

Venue:  Wembley

England (World Ranking 1st)  vs. Uruguay (WR 11th)

The night of the first leg of the World Cup playoffs in the European section, but we are not involved in that so a visit from Uruguay, 11th in the world, according to the rankings, is what we face tonight. With the World Cup coming up I thought it was about time I looked at some younger players, and so central defender Glenn Aris of West Ham and central midfielder Dan Oliver of Wigan come into the squad, though the media backlash for me doing so was so great that they will both start on the bench. On the field Luke Young of Portsmouth gets a start in the Deep Lying Playmaker role, other than that it’s fairly run of the mill.

After a dull opening Uruguay took the lead on 15 minutes, though their guy looked a yard offside when he put the ball into the net. Wasn’t given so we have to get on with it. And get on with is we did, level within in three minutes, a precise free kick from deep on the wing from Luke Young was powerfully headed home by Finley. Half an hour on the clock and we were behind again as Uruguay passed their way through us, not a good effort on our part.

Half time and a goal down. Not playing well. I told them I expected better. I also made some substitutions and changed the formation. On came Aris and Oliver, as planned, also Morrissey on the right wing and Saunders on in a holding midfielder role, replacing Pearson in an attacking midfielder role. The other players to come off were, Dance, Young[/b] and Barkley.

The new formation seemed to be better at holding Uruguay at bay, our midfield was overrun in the first half, so this was an improvement. It gave us a platform to build on. Then on 54 minutes an equaliser, and this one a wonder goal, as Ian Finley took the ball in his own half, and ran with, past two or three defenders, to the edge of the box before he hit a low drove beyond the reach of the keeper.

We were behind again only three minutes later as Uruguay exposed another weakness, overlapping down the right wing and bundling home the cross when it came in. A litany of errors on our part, lots and lots of work to do.

We threw on Jones and Sturridge on late on and threw the kitchen sink at the South Americans, but it was all to no avail and we ended up losing this friendly. No big loss to me, I feel it has taught me a lot about the team, but the press are about to have a field day.

Final Score: England 2-3 Uruguay

Scorers : Finley 2

Man Of The Match:  Ian Finley

Team: Butland, Baldwin, Schiffman, Dance (Aris 45), Proffitt, Hughes (Jones 77), Young (Oliver 45), Ibe (Sturridge 77), Pearson (Saunders 45), Barkley (Morrissey 45), Finley

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Tuesday November 16th  2021

International Friendly

Venue:  Wembley

England (WR 1st)  vs. Ecuador (WR 79th)

Another friendly, this time against supposedly weaker opposition in the form of Ecuador.  But after two defeats in two games with the 4-2-3-1 formation it does look like time to try something different. So Saunders starts in a holding role, Barkley and Hughes occupy the midfield  and Sturridge and Ibe are on left and right respectively.

First half we played well but had a tendency to shoot from distance and we failed to really trouble the Ecuadorian netminder very much. We came in at the break goalless, and I told them we should be doing better than that.

And better we did. Only 22 seconds into the second half and Sturridge’s cross was only half cleared to Hughes on the penalty spot and he drove it through a ruck of players and into the net. It was two on 51 minutes, as Robinson overlapped down the left and slid over a perfect cross for Finley to slide in on and turn home.

We took our foot off the gas after that, and though Barkley hit the bar with a late freekick , we never really looked like adding to our score. I don’t think Butland had a save to make, and the man of the match was left back Jack Robinson, back in the side after a long absence, staking his claim quite nicely to spot in the World Cup Squad.

Final Score: England 2-0 Ecuador

Scorers : Hughes, Finley

Man Of The Match:  Jack Robinson

Team: Butland, Baldwin, Robinson, Aris, Smalling, Saunders, Hughes, Barkley,  Sturridge, Ibe, Finley

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Saturday November 20th  2021

Premier League

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (2nd) vs. Manchester City (3rd)

Big match. Live on telly as the evening game. Chelsea had already won their game at home to Arsenal and so will maintain first place, we need to keep up.

Tactically I try to fit a quart into a pint pot. Salva up front[/b], Lopez slightly out of position coming in from the left, Yarmolenko, tired from the internationals during the week, the one to step down. We utilise the 4-1-2-2-1 formation to keep things tight, City’s Victor is the top scorer in the league so needs to be kept in check.

After a cagey opening the game burst into life on 14 minutes as Salva takes a ball just inside the box, waltzes past a couple of defenders and slides the ball under current England number 3 goalie, Joe Hart thus justifying his selection completely.

City don’t take this lying down, as you might expect, and strike the base of the post following a slick move on 20. We get the next couple of chances with Proffitt heading narrowly over from a corner and then Romani shooting inches wide when through on goal. Near the end of the half City hit the post again, but Lezcano was able to dive on the rebound and disaster was averted. The game was 90 miles an hour but when the half time whistle went we were still a goal up.

I tell the lads not to get complacent, and this upsets a couple of them, but focuses the minds of quite a few more. We start the half well forcing corners but not able to make the breakthrough, that is not until the 58th minute when Proffitt headed in a Crisetig corner at the near post, the pressure finally telling.

City tried to get back into the game but the closest they got resulted in a goal-line clearance from man of the match Proffitt late on, we took off an exhausted Lopez near the end, he had done a good shift and lost Romani to injury in injury time. That was a worry, but the final score wasn’t. A fabulous win, and no mistake.

Final Score: Liverpool 2-0 Manchester City

Scorers : Salva, Proffitt

League Position: 2nd

Man Of The Match:  Owen Proffitt

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Schiffman, Lagator, Proffitt, Crisetig, Galarza, Gandola, A. Lopez (Swift 85), Romani (Kemble 92), Salva

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Tuesday November 23rd  2021

European Champions Cup Group F

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (1st) vs. CFR Cluj (4th)

A good win here and we can as good as secure ourselves top spot in the group, for though we only start the game three points ahead of Athletico Madrid our goal difference is significantly better. Still, if we win all our games, there won’t be any questions about whose first, now will there, so let’s get on and win this one.

Alfredo Lopez needs a rest, so will get one tonight, Salva the obvious guy to step in. Romani too so Yarmolenko fills in on the right and Bertello gets the starting spot in left. Clark gives Galarza the night off. Otherwise it’s a normal 4-2-3-1 setup.

Cluj came here to frustrate and it wasn’t until the 25th minute, and with the crowd getting restless, that we opened the scoring, Bertello on hand to knock in the rebound after a Salva free ick had come back off the bar.

The second followed soon after, Salva’s persistence paying off after he had not one, but two efforts blocked. The third times the charm they say, and that’s what it was here. But those expecting the floodgates to open at this point were sorely disappointed as it stayed at 2-0 o the half time break.

Good, but you could do better, was my message at half time.

51 minutes and it was three-nil, Salva stroking home a penalty after Lagator was pushed in the box.  70 mins it became 4 in slightly fortuitous fashion as Omrani’s shot hit the bar but bounced down and into the net off the back of the goalkeeper’s head, an own goal, I’m afraid. Lagator headed in a fifth from a Clark corner in the 74th minute.

Yet Cluj resistance wasn’t yet broken and they got one back on 81, a scuffed effort that wrong-footed Lezcano.

That’s the way it finished, a convincing win.

Final Score: Liverpool 5-1 CFR Cluj

Scorers: Bertello, Salva 2 (1 pen), og, Lagator

Group Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Leandro Salva

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Schiffman, Lagator, Proffitt, Crisetig, Omrani, Bertello, Clark, Yarmolenko, Salva

In the other match in the Group, Athletico Madrid secured their spot in the knockout rounds with a 3-1 over Fernebache. We only lead by three points but they would need to beat us by five clear goals to overtake us, so we are fairly sure of finishing top of the group.

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Sunday November 28th 2021

Premier League

Venue:  Perryman Park

Tottenham Hotspur (7th) vs. Liverpool (2nd)

Spurs haven’t had the best of starts this season, but are still a formidable force at home. To that end I put Lopez, Galarza and Gandola back into the side, Bertello, Omrani and Clark the ones to miss out. Yarmolenko continues on the right in Romani’s absence.

We opened brightly and took the lead as early as the sixth minute, Yarmolenko the creator for this one, sending back in his first attempt at a cross, which was blocked, to the feet of Salva, six yards out, no mistake from there.

Spurs came flying back at us, wave after wave of attack. We cleared every cross with ease, but the ball kept coming back. Then on 24 Galarza stole the ball and a break was on, forced into the corner he knocked back to Schiffman, backing up, his ball in was spun upon by Lopez, his effort crashing off the bar and falling at the feet of Yarmolenko, open goal, two-nil.

Galarza picked up a knock and had to come off on 39. Clark was his replacement, but that’s as exciting as the remainder of the first half got. Half time, and two up.

We played well after the break, forcing Spurs back, but we couldn’t force a goal, a fingertip save from a Salva effort on the hour as close as we got. On 73 we lost Lopez to injury, Bertello the man on.

Time ran down with no further goals, and one good save apiece from either keeper. We run out comfortable two-nil winners, and keep pace with Chelsea, who have played a game more than us, at the top.

Final Score: Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Liverpool

Scorers : Salva, Yarmolenko

League Position: 2nd

Man Of The Match:  Robbie Schiffman

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Schiffman, Lagator, Proffitt, Crisetig, Galarza (Clark 39), Gandola, A. Lopez (Bertello 79), Yarmolenko, Salva

Lopez suffered a concussion, and will rest for a week or so on doctor’s orders. Galarza sprained an ankle and will miss 5 or 6 weeks. Next game is against leaders Chelsea, so not a good time for these injuries to occur.

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Saturday December 4th 2021

Premier League

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (2nd) vs. Chelsea (1st)

So one of the defining days of the season would come in the deep mid-winter. There was no snow, but it was cold, the lads would get moving and warm, but it was no fun on the bench.

Lopez wasn’t quite recovered, so Bertello will start, and I picked Omrani to fill in Galarza’s place.

The first half didn’t offer a lot in the way of entertainment for the crowd, the two sides cancelling each other out. Goalless at half time, and some thinking to do. I decided to switch from the 4-1-2-2-1 formation to the 4-2-3-1 formation, moving Omrani behind the striker.

And we played much better in the second half, forcing a fabulous save on the hour mark as Yarmolenko attempted to turn home a beautiful, flowing, move. We came forward again and again, only to find the Chelsea defence as resilient as you would expect them to be. But just as it looked like we would finish goalless, the ball squirted loose to Bertello in a typical last ditch challenge on Salva and the youngster made no mistake from 15 yards out, arrowing it home. No time to come back, another fabulous result, now on top with a game in hand.

Final Score: Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea

Scorers : Bertello

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Roberto Gandola

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Schiffman, Lagator, Proffitt, Crisetig, Omrani, Gandola, Bertello, Yarmolenko, Salva

The draw for the Groups in the World Cup 2022, Qatar was made later on that night. England were in the top group of seeds, as befits the team ranked number one in the World, and we were drawn into Group H. Also in that Group were, Romania, Morocco and Japan. It could have been worse, Spain got Belgium, Chile and the USA in Group A.

In the Third Round of the FA Cup, draw today also, Liverpool have a home tie against League Two opposition, either Crewe or Crawley, depending on who wins their replayed second round tie.

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Wednesday December 8th 2021

European Champions Cup Group F

Venue:  Vicente Calderon

Athletico Madrid (2nd) vs. Liverpool (1st)

We started the game well, having a shot cleared off the line in the 6th minute. Athletico steadied and applied some pressure, all of which Lezcano was equal to. The goal, when it came, on 26 minutes, was simplicity itself, route one stuff, a clearance from Lezcano, Salva ran onto it, drove into the box, drew the keeper and slotted it home from a tight angle.

We seemed to be quite comfortable at this juncture, Madrid had the ball but didn’t create a whole lot. Then on 41 minutes we gave away an equaliser, Omrani’s wayward backpass snapped up by the Athletico forward and steered in.

Half time 1-1, could be worse, could have been much, much, better.

I made some changes at half time, to freshen up the attack

But the second half didn’t quite go to plan. Athletico got their second, the winner, in the 74th minute, their guy looked a yard offside but it wasn’t given. We had nothing to give in reply, were sloppy all round, a very disappointing performance.

Final Score: Athletico Madrid 2-1 Liverpool

Scorers: Salva

Group Position: 2nd

Man Of The Match:  Daniel Lezcano

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Schiffman, Lagator, Proffitt, Crisetig, Omrani (Roberts 45), Gandola, Bertello (Swift 45), Romani (Yarmolenko 45), Salva

We drop to second in the group despite our superior goal difference thanks to the two matches between us and At. Madrid, it was 1-2 here, but 3-2 back at our own place so Athletico Madrid get top spot on the fact they scored more goals at our place than we did at theirs. See what happens when you don’t bother to check the rules!

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Saturday December 11th 2021

Premier League

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (1st) vs. Aston Villa (15th)

A small personnel reshuffle for this one, Gandola is tired, and also one yellow away from a ban, so now seems a good time to give him a rest, Crisetig is just tired. Roberts, for his league debut, and Cespedes the men to take over. Alfredo Lopez returns on the left.

We piled on the pressure from the off here, Villa are down where they are in the table for a reason, and that reason would seem to be is that they are not very good away from home. Salva, Lopez and Romani all went close early on, but the goal, when it came on 18 minutes, was a product of the midfield. Roberts at the back post sensibly headed the ball back across the face of goal, instead of trying it all himself, and his ball found Omrani running in and he hammered the ball home from 8 yards out.

Villa tried to come back but we held them at bay, save for one small scare on 34 when Lezcano spilled a routine shot, Proffitt was on hand though to hack the ball away. On 38 we extended our lead, a long Martin Dance throw in, headed in by Lagator, route one stuff, brilliant.

 The first action of the second half was a Villa player picking up his second yellow card for an outrageous dive, 55 minutes on the clock. 58, we made it three, Dance winning the ball on the right wing, feeding the ball into Romani, who took on his full back for pace, swung in a cross, where Salva met it and blasted it home. Old fashioned wing play, you can’t beat it, can you ?

Villa finally got one back on 77,  a fizzing low drive that ended up in the corner of the net, a good goal. But that was as good as it got for them, the game meandered to an end from that point, we never looked like losing this one, a job well done.

Final Score: Liverpool 3-1 Aston Villa

Scorers: Omrani, Lagator, Salva

League Position:1st

Man Of The Match:  Martin Dance

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Schiffman, Lagator, Proffitt, Cespedes, Omrani, Roberts, A. Lopez , Romani, Salva

In midweek the replay between Crewe and Crawley took place, and it was the southerners who prevailed, they will now face us in the third round. The draw for the first knockout round of the Champions League took place. We were drawn against PSV home leg first. That could have been worse, a lot worse.

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Saturday December 18th 2021

Premier League

Venue:  Goodison Park

Everton (17th) vs. Liverpool (1st)

Everton are flirting with relegation thus far this season, but good form or not, it doesn’t pay to take the opposition for granted in this fixture.

Everton started in full on derby mode, tearing into tackles and playing about 25% better than they had at any other time this season, but it was all damage control really as we passed the ball around, got the opposition chasing shadows, and made chance after chance after chance.

On 9 minutes we took the lead with one of the best derby goals I have ever seen. It was made so special by Salva who backheeled the ball under pressure to set Romani free and his low cross was met by Lopez running onto it, and we were a goal up.

Salva had a glorious chance to make it two on 16 minutes but his shot came back off the post to safety. Everton had a good period after that and looked to get back into the game, but it was us who, on the half hour mark, added a second. Salva the provider, setting up Yarmolenko to shoot across the keeper and into the far corner.

Three minutes on and Everton were back in it, as they managed to stab home a goalmouth scramble, poor defending there. It was touch and go for a while as to which way the game was going to go, but on the stroke of half time we swung the game back in our favour as we got a third goal. A Salva free kick from deep, Lopez headed against the bar, but was quickest to the rebound and he knocked it in from close range.

The goal did, of course, come at the ‘best time to get a goal’ time, right before the break, but I get the feeling it was only the quantity of crockery we could hear being flung in the home dressing room that the goal made any real difference to !

The second half was mainly comprised of Everton possession and their efforts to create chances. They created very little and we held them at bay with some ease. On 70 minutes we took off Dance and Omrani to give Boldrini and Lucas a run out. Boldrini has been chuntering about lack of chances recently, and Lucas has just returned from a long time out injured, it was good to see him back.

On 88 minutes we broke down the field, fed it out to the excellent Romani and his low cross was turned in by Lopez for his hatrick. It’s the first time we’ve tried out the Mexican in that hole behind the main striker, and with a hatrick, he certainly has taken to it, hasn’t he. At least in Galarza’s absence we look to have found a formation that works for us.

Final Score: Everton 1-4 Liverpool

Scorers : A Lopez 3, Yarmolenko

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Alfredo Lopez

Team: Lezcano, Dance (Boldrini 69), Schiffman, Lagator, Proffitt, Crisetig, Omrani (Lucas 69), Yarmolenko, A. Lopez , Romani, Salva

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Wednesday December 22nd 2021

Premier League

Venue:  St. Mary’s

Southampton (8th) vs. Liverpool (1st)

This is our game in hand, so we need to get something out of it. I opt for a formation change as Southampton are a different proposition than Everton, and we can’t afford gung-ho here, not initially at least !

We go for a 5-3-2, that sees Salva and Lopez up front together, Clark in the hole, Boldrini and Salazar on wing back duties. A different formation, and we get off to a flyer, Gandola setting it up with a fabulous through ball, leaving Salva with a comparatively simple finish from 8 yards out. 8 minutes on the clock.      

Southampton should have been level on 20 minutes when they struck the post when it looked easier to score. That missed chance came back to haunt them just past the half hour as Boldrini got to the byline, Lopez shot, the keeper could only block it out into play and Clark was on hand to bundle the ball in. Not pretty but it still counts as one, like all the rest.

On the stroke of half time, we got a third,Lopez providing the final pass, as Salva got his second from a narrow angle. Once again we went in on a high, and the team talk was easy.

The second half bimbled around for a short while, and then we got into gear. The fourth goal arrived on 58 minutes, Clark the provider this time, Lopez the scorer, rasping home a drive from a full 15 yards out.

Job done, we sat back and Southampton took advantage of that. Lezcano was in good form so they only got the one, in the 75th minute, but I didn’t appreciate the way they took their eye off the prize of victory. Lesson one in training the following day was, ‘It ain’t over until the fat lady sings’.

Final Score: Southampton 1-4 Liverpool

Scorers : Salva 2, Clark, A. Lopez

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Leandro Salva

Team: Lezcano, Boldrini, Salazar, Lagator, Proffitt, Dance, Crisetig, Gandola, Clark, A. Lopez , Salva

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Sunday December 26th 2021

Premier League

Venue:  St. James’ Park

Newcastle (13th) vs. Liverpool (1st)

The Boxing Day fixture this year saw us travel up to the North East, and to Newcastle. They have hit a little bit of form recently including a televised 3-0 walloping of Arsenal in their last match so they are not a team to be taken lightly by any means.

But I only make one change to the lineup from the last match, Gandola, one booking away from an enforced ban, takes the day off, Enriquez steps into the ball winning role. We stick with the 5-3-2 as it offers us more in terms of attacking threat than any of our other formations.

Newcastle started the game stronger and had the better chances though they failed to test Lezcano, shooting wide each time. But the pressure grew, to the point where something had to give. It came just after the half hour mark as Newcastle pushed up a little too much so when they lost the ball just inside our half, Salva had a clear half to run into, he did, drew the keeper and slotted the ball past him. A sucker punch, for sure, but they all count.

We lost Clarke to injury shortly after that, Omrani on to replace him in the hole behind the front two. But that was it for the entertainment of the first half, and we went in a goal up. I told them they could play better and sent them back out.

The second half was more of the same from Newcastle but on 55 minutes they scored, a mazy Zaha run followed by a finish of some calmness, stuff that he never showed when he played for us !. But it wasn’t level for long, as we passed our way through their backline, Lopez taking it past the last man and burying it from 15 yards out.

On 76 Enriquez limped off, which caused a bit of a reshuffle, Omrani and Lopez moving back in the formation, and Swift taking a front-runner’s role.

 On 79 we got a third goal, a Crisetig low corner to the near post, turned in by Lagator from about 4 yards out, a simple goal, easy if you leave the front post unmarked. We had chances to extend our lead near the end, but we didn’t take them. We still ran out convincing winners.

Final Score: Newcastle 1-3 Liverpool

Scorers : Salva, A. Lopez, Lagator

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Alfredo Lopez

Team: Lezcano, Boldrini, Salazar, Lagator, Proffitt, Dance, Crisetig, Enriquez (Swift 76), Clark (Omrani 34), A. Lopez , Salva

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Tuesday December 28th 2021

Premier League

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (1st) vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (9th)

The second game in the Christmas string came round too quick for the lads injured in the previous game, Clark would be out for two weeks, Enriquez, five. Add in to that some tiredness in the squad, and this game became a choice between a test of our squad depth or a chance to change the formation a little. The use of the 5-3-2 in recent games had been due to my inability to choose between Alfredo Lopez and Salva, but with Lopez sitting this one out due to tiredness, and both Yarmolenko and Romani back to full fitness, it was a no brainer to change it back to the 4-2-3-1 formation, Omrani in the hole, and Lucas and Gandola in the middle of the park.

Wolves started the better of the two teams and forced some corners early on which we dealt with easily. We showed nothing until the 20th minute, when we managed to score. Yarmolenko the man to score, bundling the ball home at the second attempt after his shot on the run was blocked. Wolves did their best to come back into the game, but we held them at arm’s length and got to half time a goal to the good.

The second half started poorly, very little in the way of creativity from either side. We had to reorganise on 52 as Romani limped off, A.Lopez on in the hole, Omrani to the left, Yarmolenko to the right. The reorganisation knocked us off our stride a bit, but we got a break on the hour mark as Salva snaffled a half chance with a snap shot from the edge of the box that caught the keeper out.

We got a third on 70 minutes with Salva once again the scorer, the ball squirting to him following a robust challenge by Lucas, and Salva then taking the ball round the last man and converting from just inside the box. Salva didn’t get the chance for his hatrick within three minutes of the restart he too was limping off, replaced by Nicholas Lopez.

On 77 it was 4, Proffitt the man on the spot after a header from a corner was cleared off the line, it fell at Proffitt’s feet and he made no mistake from only four yards out. We saw out the game from there with ease. A very comfortable 4-0 win.

Final Score: Liverpool 4-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Scorers : Yarmolenko, Salva 2, Proffitt

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Lucas Leiva

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Schiffman, Lagator, Proffitt, Lucas, Gandola, Yarmolenko, Omrani, Romani  (A. Lopez 52) , Salva (N.Lopez 73)

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Saturday January 1st 2022

FA Cup Third Round

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (PRM 1st) vs. Crawley Town (L2 2nd)

The FA Cup saw us cast in the role of ‘giant’ and our visitors, Crawley of League Two in the role of ‘giantkillers’, that only, of course, if they win. It’s not a game that should challenge us, of course, but seeing as I view it as an opportunity to give some squad players a go, then strange things might happen. Of the last team only Omrani and Proffitt remain, the rest are all squad player, with only one youngster on the bench.

The Crawley keeper had distinguished himself with a couple of sharp saves by the time we took the lead on 9 minutes. Nicholas Lopez was the creator, stealing the ball in the box as the defender dallied about putting it into row Z, he drew the keeper, then he pulled the ball back for Omrani to knock into the now unguarded net.

On 17 minutes Omrani was on hand to notch his second after a N.Lopez effort was saved, the rebound falling into open space and Omrani the first one to react. Just three minutes later N.Lopez was rewarded for his hard work as he turned in a Vito cross.

Omrani just failed to complete his hatrick as he hit the bar late on in the half, but we went in a comfortable three goals up.

He was able to complete his hatrick in the 57th minute, our first proper attack after a quiet opening to the second half, Swift down the left, and Omrani meeting his low cross with a diving header that flew in.   

That was it for the scoring, we were fully in control, Crawley didn’t ever really test Fashanu in our nets, we could have got more, but four was enough, Crawley were game, did their best, certainly gave it their all, and so it’s good we beat but not humiliate them.

Final Score: Liverpool 4-0 Crawley Town

Scorers : Omrani 3, N.Lopez

Man Of The Match:  Ahmed Omrani

Team: Fashanu, Boldrini, Salazar, Istuk, Proffitt, Cespedes, Roberts, Swift, Omrani, Vito, N.Lopez

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Wednesday January 5th 2022

Premier League

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (1st) vs. Stoke City (12th)

Midweek in January has never been my favourite time to be playing a match, but this is what we had here, obviously I hoped our recent excellent form could be carried on here and to that end I was pleased to see Galarza return to the team. Alfredo Lopez the unlucky one to miss out, but he’d get to warm the bench just in case Salva didn’t play his usual part in proceedings.

Stoke had other ideas and started the much better of the two sides, and were unlucky to see a shot from the edge of the box whistle past the post on 11 minutes, Lezcano static. It didn’t last however and we went a goal up on 17 minutes, Salva the scorer from the penalty box after he was left in a heap after trying to connect with a Romani cross.

Stoke tried their best to get back into the game but we had the upper hand now and we added a second goal on the 40 minute mark, a Schiffman cross from deep was met with a flying header by Romani and the ball flew just inside the right hand post, a lovely goal, quite direct.

We made it three right on half time, this one a Yarmolenko screamer from the corner of the box, it flew in, some shot, Schiffman once again the provider.

Three up at half time and that gave us a bit more of a sense of comfort than I think our play really deserved.Stoke certainly had some home truths told to them at half time as they were a different team in the second period. They pressed, and got one back on 52 minutes following a defensive mixup. Their second on 57 was a much cleaner effort, a run and shot that Lezcano could and should have done better with.

We wobbled for a bit, and looked like we’d concede a third, but we just about managed to hold them at bay. Near the end, in the 82nd minute, Galarza set up Salva for his second of the day and the points were safe, a 4-2 win, but it was a lot closer than the score might suggest.

Final Score: Liverpool 4-2 Stoke City

Scorers : Salva 2 (1 pen), Romani, Yarmolenko

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Leandro Salva

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Schiffman, Lagator, Proffitt, Omrani, Gandola (Lucas 34), Yarmolenko, Galarza, Romani, Salva

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Saturday January 8th 2022

Premier League

Venue:  Loftus Road

Queen’s Park Rangers (20th) vs. Liverpool (1st)

QPR have been poor this season and are rapidly becoming adrift at the bottom of the league, with just 11 points from their 20 games (we on the other hand have 55 from the same number of games), I decide to go for the throat and play a 5-3-2 with Lopez and Salva up top and Galarza behind them. That should work.

QPR started brightly but their problems stem from not scoring enough goals, and you could see why here, putting the ball over when well placed early on. We, on the other hand, have no problem scoring and we took the lead with our first attack on 11 minutes, Lopez jumping on a loose ball in the area and threading it home for his 13th league goal of the season. We pushed on from there but were unlucky in that we couldn’t add a second before the half time break.

I told them they could play better in the second half, and they certainly started the second period like they had been told just that, with us going two up just 17 seconds into the second half, from the kick off, passing the ball through them, Lopez to Salva, no mistake, two-nil.

QPR steadied a bit after that and eventually got one back just past the hour mark, it was as close as they got though and we ran out easy, if rather unconvincing winners.

Final Score: Queen’s Park Rangers 1-2 Liverpool

Scorers: Lopez, Salva

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Alfredo Lopez

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Lagator, Proffitt, Boldrini, Yarmolenko, Roberts, Lucas, Galarza, Lopez, Salva

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Saturday January 15th 2022

Premier League

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (1st) vs. Watford (18th)

We stick with the 5-3-2 formation for this one, Istuk in for Boldrini, and Omrani and Gandola patrolling the centre of midfield, the changes from last weekend.

We were on top from the opening whistle, and put the visitors under intense pressure, but corner after corner we met a determined defence, an inspired keeper and some wasteful play on our own part. I don’t know how we didn’t score before half time, but we didn’t.

Half time I was cross, and I told them so.  They went out looking like they meant business. I asked them to play a bit more on the front foot.

It took seven minutes of the second half to get onto the scoresheet Alfredo Lopez the provider, s defence splitting pass, which Galarza ran onto and guided home from ten yards out. A nice goal, yet our malaise of the first half was not yet gone. We wasted chances galore, Omrani an inch wide with a drive, Lopez shooting over instead of passing to a better placed Salva, the most notable examples. On 77 we did manage to add a second, Galarza the provider, once again splitting the defence with a killer ball, Yarmolenko the beneficiary, shooting the ball low, under the keeper’s dive and into the far corner.

In injury time Lopez added a third, a fine solo goal, taking the ball in his own half, and running with it into the box, where he wrong footed the keeper and slotted the ball home. It put a gloss on the performance that our profligacy didn’t warrant. It might seem a strange thought after a 3-0 win, but I thought it was maybe time to put the 5-3-2 away again.

Final Score: Liverpool 3-0 Watford

Scorers: Galarza, Yarmolenko, Lopez

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Alfredo Lopez

Team: Lezcano, Istuk, Lagator, Proffitt, Dance, Yarmolenko, Gandola, Omrani, Galarza, Lopez, Salva

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During the following week we made some moves, mainly to get ahead of the game in the last week of the January transfer window, and to avoid being caught out chasing players at the end of it. We let some players go out on loan, Boldrini and Istuk both went to Real Madrid on loan for the rest of the season. I hadn’t been that impressed with either of them recently, and I thought Boldrini at least would learn a bit on loan. Istuk I wasn’t sure had much of a future at Anfield, but a loan would at least give me time to work out if he was an asset to the team or not.  Fringe players went too, Lebron to Villareal, Kemble to Schalke and Vito to Aston Villa, all for the rest of the season.

Into the side came a couple of players who I thought would improve our defensive depth. Thomas Kounadis, 23 and a former England U21 international, was bought from Arsenal for just £2.6million. He was coming to the end of his contract and was refusing to sign a new one, so I saw a chance and went for it. He’s a good, though a little limited, central defender and he’ll provide cover initially. Stephan Koch, 21, and a German international was bought for £19.75 million from Schalke. He’s primarily a right back but can cover across the back, his versatility could be a real asset. Those weren’t the only moves I was making but they were the ones to come off before our next match, a cup game, against Hull

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Sunday January 23rd 2022

FA Cup Fourth Round

Venue:  The Circle, Hull

Hull City (CH 23rd) vs. Liverpool (PRM 1st)

Kounadis was cup tied for this one, but Koch wasn’t so he gets a start at right back. We revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation for this on, Romani returning to the wing, Salva getting a game on the bench, that decision taken as a result of Alfredo Lopez’s current form.

Hull as you might expect came out like a team on fire, we on the other hand were awful. It was, quite simply, the worst 45 minutes of football I have ever seen Liverpool play, at least whilst I have been in charge. Hull were inventive, exciting and entertaining, everything we weren’t. No surprise when they took the lead on 27 minutes, defensive slackness allowing the Hull lad time to pick his spot.

We were fortunate to get in at half time just the one goal down. I went into teacup throwing overdrive, I was that mad. I took off the worst two players, Schiffman who had been tormented by the lad on the Hull right, and Lopez who couldn’t hit a barn door today with Salazar and Salva respectively.

Well the second half started off as an entirely different story, Salazar the provider, Yarmolenko the scorer, just 48 minutes on the clock. But after that it was back to the dross of the first half. We had man of the match Lezcano for keeping us in the cup, he made a string of good saves, whilst we offered very little going forward. The game finished 1-1, and I have some thinking to do. After the game the 5th round draw was made, and it would be a home tie against the winners of the Stoke vs. West Brom tie.

Final Score: Hull City 1-1 Liverpool

Scorers: Yarmolenko

Man Of The Match:  Daniel Lezcano

Team: Lezcano, Koch, Lagator, Proffitt, Schiffman (Salazar 45), Lucas, Gandola, Romani, Galarza, Yarmolenko, Lopez (Salva 45)

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A little treat for Mr Wilson, let's see if he's still reading this

Wednesday January 26th 2022

Premier League

Venue:  Old Trafford

Manchester United (5th) vs. Liverpool (1st)

The fact that this is played midweek in January, in driving hail, with no TV cameras present shows that this isn’t the match it once was, but the fact remains that there are very few results that our fans enjoy more than a win over United.

United’s home form has been very good with only one of their five loses so far this season coming at home, but that was in their last home match when they went down 2-1 to Arsenal, so it’s either the start of a slide, or a bad result they will bounce back from. The bookies seem to think it’s the latter, making United narrow favourites, but we have a bit of a plan to thwart them.

And early on it works, we come out on the front foot, quite unexpectedly as it turns out and the early pressure is all us, though we don’t really test the United keeper greatly. As the half wore on United came into the game more and it was an even and one might even say dull contest for the rest  of the chanceless first half.

At half time I told them they could win the game, which they quite clearly could. I tried not to let on that I thought they could just as easily lose the game. I sent them out and hoped for the best.

Three minutes into the second half and my worst fears were realised, an overlap down the right, time to pick a cross and the United lad got in front of Lagator and turned the ball in. We didn’t come close to equalising, though Schiffman nearly caught out the United netminder with a cross that he turned over at the last moment as it sailed toward the net.

That was as close as it got for us, and we ended up losing this one. A narrow defeat for sure, but still a defeat.

Final Score: Man Utd 1-0 Liverpool

Scorers:

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Lorenzo Crisetig

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Lagator, Proffitt, Schiffman, Crisetig, Gandola, Yarmolenko, Galarza, Romani, Lopez

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Nice to know,Mark, I think it will be difficult for United tomorrow, but Liverpool don't have the best record against United at Anfield so I think it's a hard one to call.

 

Saturday January 29th 2022

Premier League

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (1st) vs. Arsenal (2nd)

Of course the secret here would be to not let the defeat at United turn into a slump and this wasn’t going to be the easiest of games to manage that in.  Added to that Schiffman had twisted an ankle in training and would be out of action for as many as 6 weeks, so it wasn’t an easy decision to make team wise.

The first half was mainly punctuated by an over physical Arsenal team picking up regular yellow cards, four of them in the first half alone. They got that and they got a goal, a bad one to giveaway, poor marking at a corner in the 37th minute and we were a goal down.

At half time I told them how poor I thought they had been, they seemed to be motivated to do better in the second half so I sent them back out without changes.

It took just five minutes for us to get back on terms, the scorer was Salva with a free kick from 25 yards out that he curled up and over the wall and out of the keeper’s reach, a special goal. After that we huffed and puffed but couldn’t break through. If anything Arsenal looked more like scoring when they broke. However no more goals were scored and the game petered out into a one all draw.

Final Score: Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal

Scorers: Salva

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Roberto Gandola

Team: Lezcano, Dance, Lagator, Proffitt, Salazar, Galarza, Gandola, Yarmolenko, Lopez, Romani, Salva

 

A little bit of business followed on transfer deadline day. Two players came to see me requesting a transfer. Cespedes I refused, as I see a bright future for the lad (one that we have tied up too), but when George Clark came in and requested a move, I said yes, he’s been a bit peripheral this season and deserves a go elsewhere. He was the first business we did of the day, going for £11.25 million to Roma. We replaced him with a 23 year old Brazilian bought for £11.75 million from Anji, a lad by the name of Joao Paulo, a slightly more defensively minded midfielder, a promising purchase. We also dipped into the loan market for a reserve left winger, a familiar face in these parts as Erminio Mozzini rejoined us on loan from Parma for the rest of the season.

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Wednesday February 2nd 2022

FA Cup Fourth Round Replay

Venue:  Anfield

Liverpool (PRM 1st) vs. Hull City (CH 22nd)

The midfield this evening was made up of a fit again Crisetig and Tim Roberts. Koch slipped in at right back, but we are otherwise at full strength. There’s a bit of tiredness in the camp, and the selection was based on that as much as anything.

We got off to a flying start with a goal with just 2 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock from our very first corner, the ball into the centre was knocked back by Lagator to Salazar right by the penalty spot and he thumped the ball home through a crowd from there.

The game settled down after that, we moved forward, Hull defended deep and had to rely on their goalkeeper a few more times than they would have liked, but they kept the score down to just the one goal at the break, something their manager would have been pleased with.

We lost Roberts to injury at the break, Cespedes the one to replace him.

Much like the first half the second saw us get an early goal, Galarza the scorer, gliding past a couple of defenders before firing a low shot that eluded the keeper’s grasp. Just shy of the hour mark it was three as Yarmolenko was on hand to turn in the rebound after Crisetig’s drive had been parried by the keeper.

On the hour Cespedes was the second player to have to limp off through injury, though this time saw the visitors reduced by a man as a red card was shown for the challenge that left Cespedes crocked. Omrani the next one on.

On 74 minutes we scored a good old fashioned goal for our fourth of the day, Yarmolenko taking his man on down the wing and swinging over a cross that Romani met on the volley as he came in on the far post giving the keeper no chance. On 80 it was 5, as Galarza added a second, unmarked at a free kick and with time and composure enough to pick his spot. It was the easiest goal on a pretty easy night, a night on which we ran out comprehensive winners.

Final Score: Liverpool 5-0 Hull City

Scorers: Salazar, Galarza 2, Yarmolenko, Romani

Man Of The Match:  Luciano Galarza

Team: Lezcano, Koch, Lagator, Proffitt, Salazar, Roberts (Cespedes 45 (Omrani 60)), Crisetig, Yarmolenko, Galarza, Romani, Salva

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Saturday February 5th 2022

Premier League

Venue:  Reebok Stadium

Bolton Wanderers (11th) vs. Liverpool (1st)

Bolton had done tolerably well so far this season, they lie 11th currently, but this is still the type of game we have to take in our stride if we are going to repeat as Champions again. A place on the bench for new signing Joao Paulo, but a first start for Kounadis here.

We pressed from the start but all we had to show for a first half of hard work was a Alfredo Lopez dispatching of a rebound in the 37th minute. The rest of the half was a litany of wasted chances. I hoped it wouldn’t come back to bite us.

The early signs of the second period made it look as though that wouldn’t be the case. Lopez grabbing a second just seconds into the second period, firing through a crowd of players and leaving the keeper unsighted.

Yet after that we started to waste opportunities again, and we saw the game out as 2-0 winners with some ease. Dance went off injured near the end, and Joao Paulo made his debut for the last ten minutes as well.

Final Score: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Liverpool

Scorers: Lopez, A. 2

League Position: 1st

Man Of The Match:  Alfredo Lopez

Team: Lezcano, Dance (Koch 80), Kounadis, Proffitt, Lagator, Omrani (Joao Paulo 81), Gandola, Yarmolenko, Galarza, Romani, A. Lopez

Dance’s injury proved to be quite serious. His Achilles Tendon was crocked and he’ll miss as much as three months, that’ll put his World Cup participation in doubt, a disaster for the lad.

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