LFC Talk


Match Preview: Everton v Liverpool by lfctalk
February 4, 2009, 18:53
Filed under: Match Previews | Tags: , ,

FA Cup Fourth Round (Replay)
Goodison Park, Liverpool
20:10, 4th February 2009
Watch it live on ITV and itv.com

Match Squads

Everton (from): Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Anichebe, Gosling, Castillo, Rodwell, Neville, Osman, Arteta, Fellaini, Pienaar, Cahill, Nash, Yobo, Van der Meyde, Jacobsen, Jutkiewicz.

Liverpool (from): Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Hyypia, Aurelio, Dossena, Benayoun, Babel, Gerrard, Mascherano, Lucas, Alonso, Kuyt, Torres, Ngog, Riera, Cavalieri.

Everton welcome fierce local rivals Liverpool to Goodison Park for the second time this season after two 1-1 draws at Anfield in a week. The first was a Premiership fixture, but the second was the FA Cup Fourth Round fixture that could not separate the sides.

Tim Cahill was the scourge of the Reds defence in both Anfield games, scoring in the first game and assisting Joleon Lescott in the second to deny wins to their hosts. Steven Gerrard scored both Liverpool goals in the two encounters, with two classy strikes beating Tim Howard – who can justifiably feel that he let his side down by not saving the FA Cup equaliser.

Everton welcome back the previously suspended Marouane Fellaini to their squad and it appears that he has shaken off a knock to feature in the match. Tim Cahill has also recovered to face The Reds. Loan signing Jo cannot play, however, as he is cup tied from a previous cup appearance this season for Manchester City.

Rafael Benitez may well be tempted to pick the same side that beat Chelsea 2-0 on Sunday, with Fernando Torres scoring two goals in the closing stages of the Anfield clash. David Moyes has been reported to be considering selecting the same eleven that lost to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Recent meetings

PRM 27/9/09 – Everton 0-2 Liverpool (Torres 2)
PRM 19/1/09 – Liverpool 1-1 Everton (Gerrard – Cahill)
FAC 25/1/09 – Liverpool 1-1 Everton (Gerrard – Lescott)

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Match Preview: Liverpool v Stoke City by lfctalk
September 18, 2008, 17:04
Filed under: Match Previews

Fans will have to look back to Wednesday 29th November 2000 for the last time the Reds took on Stoke City. That ended in an 8-0 thrashing for the Potters on their own turf. This meeting is taking place at Anfield on Saturday 20th September with an old-fashioned 3pm kick-off.

The Premiership first-timers (a rarity in this yo-yo age) have been an entertaining side so far this season with a two five-goal thrillers under their belts already. Both came at their Britannia Stadium with a win and a loss for the home fans to contend with. After a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Bolton on the opening day, the Potters raised their game to see off Aston Villa the following week in their first home Premiership fixture. A 90th minute winner from Mamady Sidibe saw them collect a priceless three points after Villa had come from behind twice to level.

A late Tuncay Sanli goal saw Stoke come away empty handed from their visit to Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium in the following round of fixtures after a Justin Hoyte, who was making his Boro debut, own goal had looked to have secured them a first away point.

Everton were the next opponents for the newly-promoted side at the Britannia Stadium. After a drab opening 40 minutes, Yakubu Aiyegbeni put the Toffees 1-0 up going in the break. The second half was a vast improvement and saw four more goals in a tight encounter. These goals were shared between the two sides and after Everton had increased their lead to 2-0, the Potters dug-in and hit back with strikes from Seyi Olofinjana and an own goal by Phil Jagielka. Rory Delap’s immense throw-ins were a major factor in this and other goals scored by the side so far this season. After a legitimate penalty appeal for Everton was waved away, Tim Cahill sprung to head the winner and claim the deserved three points for the visitors.

Stoke’s main attacking threat comes from the long-throws of midfielder Rory Delap. They are aimed into the heart of their opponents box and can cause havoc. Their main threat in terms of forwards is Jamaican frontman Ricardo Fuller. The much-travelled striker has already impressed with a fine solo goal against Aston Villa in August.

Former Reds Dominic Matteo and Salif Diao are in the Stoke squad, but neither has made an appearance so far this season.

The team is managed by Tony Pulis, who is in his second spell leading the side.

Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool side are going into the game off the back of two hard-fought victories over Manchester United and Marseille. Both were 2-1 wins recovered from going behind and both will have boosted the confidence of the squad. The victory at the Stade Velodrome was the tougher encounter as the French side were banging at the door for much of the second half and only some excellent keeping and poor finishing kept the Reds ahead.

Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard will be aiming to be back to full fitness for this match after their injuries while Javier Mascherano and Dirk Kuyt will be looking to return to their all-action styles after two fairly subdued showings against Marseille which were out of character for the hard-working pair.



Match Preview: Liverpool v Manchester United by lfctalk
September 12, 2008, 23:56
Filed under: Match Previews

Rafael Benitez is looking for a first Premiership victory over rivals Manchester United at Anfield. After facing Alex Ferguson’s men on eight previous occasions, the Spaniard has only seen his side collect a single point from a 0-0 draw in the 2005/6 season.

Both clubs will be looking for morale boosting victories early in the Premiership title race after slow starts to the campaign. Despite poor form, Liverpool find themselves second in the Premiership level on points with pacesetters Chelsea. Both sides remain unbeaten and will be looking to maintain that record after this fixture.

Benitez has been handed a major boost ahead of fixture with the news that both Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres have been passed fit for the game. Manchester United’s starman, Cristiano Ronaldo, remains sidelined however and will miss the game. The Portuguese superstar is yet to appear for his club after a Summer transfer saga that saw his desired move to Real Madrid postponed for the time being.

Sami Hyypia and Philipp Degen are sidelined for the hosts, but new signing Albert Riera could be handed a debut for the Reds. The Spanish winger made his first Premiership debut, for Manchester City, against United and helped beat them 3-1. All Liverpool supporters will be hoping for a repeat of that success for the Spanish international.

Ferguson has new £30.75m man Dimitar Berbatov available for his debut and Michael Carrick has given him an injury boost by being passed fit. The same cannot be said for Owen Hargreaves, who has been ruled out after a recurrence of a knee injury in the UEFA Super Cup loss to Zenit St Petersburg.

Alex Ferguson has stoked the prematch fires by questioning the logic in Benitez spending £19.3 on Robbie Keane. The Spaniard replied by claiming the comments would only inspire Keane to put United to the sword. Liverpool fans will be hoping that does happening after a disappointing start to the season by the Irish forward.

Liverpool will be looking for their first goal at Anfield against United in the Premiership under Benitez’s management. The Spaniard has a solitary victory over the Red Devils, which came in the FA Cup run of 2005/6. Peter Crouch scored the winner in a 1-0 victory at Anfield on Gary Neville’s birthday.

2007/8: Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United (Tevez)
2006/7: Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United (O’Shea)
2005/6: Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United
2004/5: Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United (Rooney)

Possible lineups:

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Dossena, Carragher, Skrtel, Mascherano, Gerrard, Kuyt, Riera, Torres, Keane.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Fletcher, Scholes, Tevez, Rooney, Berbatov.



Match Preview: Aston Villa v Liverpool by lfctalk
August 30, 2008, 14:59
Filed under: Match Previews

All eyes will be on Villa Park on Sunday afternoon when Martin O’Neill and Rafael Benitez come face to face after a Summer of tension and divide over Gareth Barry’s future.

The England midfielder has been the subject of attention of Liverpool for 17 weeks and after failing to first budge Villa’s pricetag and then meet it, the Reds failed to prise the left-footer away from the Midlands. After seeing his move falter and finally fail the player decided to pledge that he would spend the forthcoming season at Villa Park this week, much to his manager’s relief.

Both sides will be looking to get the three points on Sunday in a crunch encounter after difficult weeks. O’Neill’s side will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 3-2 defeat away at Stoke last weekend and their visitors will want to bounce back from near-humiliation against Belgian champions Standard Liege. Champions League football was on the line throughout both legs against the surprise package and was only secured in the 118th minute with a shinned-strike from Dirk Kuyt.

Villa could have two debutants in their side with new signings Carlos Cuellar and James Milner looking to make their first appearances for the club. Milner will actually be making his second debut for the Villans should he play after spending 2005/6 on loan there.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last ten visits to Villa Park and will have to try and extend that record without captain Steven Gerrard. The midfield talisman had surgery on his groin injury on Thursday and will be out for around two weeks. He will miss the two opening England World Cup qualifiers but will be hoping to return against Manchester United at Anfield on 13th September.

Olympic hero Javier Mascherano is likely to replace Gerrard in midfield for the game and is expected to partner Xabi Alonso in a 4-4-2 formation. Lucas Leiva has also returned from Olympic duty, but is likely to only feature on the bench. Finnish defender Sami Hyypia is unlikely to feature after a recent hamstring problem. Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel are vying to partner Jamie Carragher at the heart of the defence and Andrea Dossena will be hoping to return to the side at the expense of Fabio Aurelio.

Ryan Babel is pushing for a recall to the side after two substitute appearances after his return from Beijing. The Dutchman has replaced Yossi Benayoun twice in the past week and provided the cross for Kuyt to end Liege’s hopes of a shock on Wednesday night. Albert Riera’s protracted move will not completed in time for the Spaniard to make his bow at Villa Park.

Nicky Shorey, Ashley Young, John Carew, Luke Young, Martin Laursen and Stilian Petrov are all likely to return to the Villa side after being rested in midweek. Steve Sidwell remains sidelined with a calf injury, however.



Match Preview: Liverpool v Middlesbrough by lfctalk
August 19, 2008, 19:50
Filed under: Match Previews | Tags: ,

Our first home game of the competitive season sees Gareth Southgate’s Middlesbrough side welcomed to Anfield on Saturday.

The North-Eastern side got off to an excellent start on Saturday with three points against a much-fancied Spurs side at the Riverside. Goals from centre-back David Wheater and former Tottenham striker Mido saw Boro win the game 2-1 and give Spurs hopes of a top four finish an early knock. They will be buoyant from this victory going into a tough encounter with the Reds this weekend.

Much speculation surrounded Rafael Benitez’s future last week, with claims that the Spaniard was on the verge of a walkout on the club. The Kop boss instantly dismissed those rumours as rubbish and said he was “100% committed” to the club and would like to be here for years to come. It was the exact response the fans were looking for, but hope of unity at the club is still in tatters after another week of top-level splits between Benitez, Hicks, Gillett and Parry. Despite these off-field factors, the players should maintain focus and look to collect three points from the match.

Ryan Babel has returned from the Olympic games in Beijing and will be an option for Benitez for the first time this season, and his timing couldn’t be better. The Dutch attacker should claim a place in the side immediately after two lacklustre performances from Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt on the flanks against Standard Liege and Sunderland. Robbie Keane and Fernando Torres will be hoping for more service than they received in both those matches, especially as they have just the one goal between them so far. Babel’s pace and power will be vital additions to Rafa’s side and his absence from the squad so far has been highlighted by the narrow attack play so far. The side is likely to remain fairly similar to the one that started against Sunderland on Saturday evening. Babel may only be used as a substitute after a gruelling trip back from China, so Benayoun and Kuyt would expect to keep their places in the side. Keane and Torres are expected to start upfront together for the third game running despite two poor outings so far. The only anticipated change is likely to be Xabi Alonso replacing youngster Damien Plessis in the centre of midfield after another quality performance from the Spaniard.

Middlesbrough will be looking to build on that opening victory over Spurs despite having a fairly poor record at Anfield. The likes of Stewart Downing, Afonso Alves, Tuncay Sanli and Jeremie Aliadiere will be their main hope for goals at a notoriously tough away venue. The Brazilian Alves has struggled to get going in English football, but his double against Manchester United late last season was an indication of the threat he possesses. Former Arsenal right-back Justin Hoyte is expected to make his debut for his new club in this fixture.

Middlesbrough lined up against Tottenham like this: Jones, Wheater, Pogatetz, Taylor, Huth, Shawky, O’Neil, Downing, Aliadiere, Alves, Tuncay.

The only change anticipated is that Hoyte will come into the side at the expense of Taylor for the visit to Anfield. New signing Didier Digard will be hoping to also make it into the first eleven after an impressive substitute appearance at the weekend.

Gareth Southgate told the BBC after that game: “We worked hard in pre-season and it was rewarded with a win in this match. We have showed that we are an attacking threat and we have some strength in depth on the bench. This is a great platform on which we must now build. For the first game of the season there is a lot of pressure but we delivered. We created a lot of chances after a nervy start.”

The Middlesbrough squad:

2 DF Justin Hoyte
3 DF Andrew Taylor
4 MF Gary O’Neil
5 DF Chris Riggott
6 DF Emanuel Pogatetz (captain)
8 MF Didier Digard
9 FW Mido
10 FW Jérémie Aliadière
11 MF Marvin Emnes
12 FW Afonso Alves
14 DF Robert Huth
15 MF Mohamed Shawky
17 FW Tuncay Şanlı
19 MF Stewart Downing
20 MF Julio Arca
21 GK Ross Turnbull
22 GK Brad Jones
26 DF Matthew Bates
28 MF Adam Johnson
29 DF Tony McMahon
31 DF David Wheater
32 GK Jason Steele
35 MF Graeme Owens
36 MF John Johnson
38 DF Seb Hines
39 DF Rhys Williams
40 DF Jonathan Grounds
41 MF Josh Walker
42 FW Tom Craddock

Last season’s corresponding fixture: 3-2 win for Liverpool with a hat-trick from Fernando Torres.



Match Preview: Sunderland v Liverpool by lfctalk
August 14, 2008, 12:44
Filed under: Match Previews

17:30 Saturday 16th August 2008 (Live on Setanta Sports)

After the disappointment of Wednesday night’s draw in Liege, Rafa Benitez and his side will be looking to make a better start to their Premiership campaign. Roy Keane’s Sunderland side are the opening day opponents for Rafa’s men and they will prove no pushovers.

The North-Eastern club have signed several players this Summer, perhaps most notably former Red El-Hadji Diouf. The Senegalese forward has arrived in a £2.5m deal from Bolton. He will be looking to stifle the Reds title challenge from the off and also trying to score his second against his former employers. Other notable arrivals at the Stadium of Light include former Spurs midifielders Teemu Tainio and Steed Malbranque along with another ex-Tottenham player in full-back Pascal Chimbonda. They didn’t quite manage to lure a quartet of signings from Tottenham with Younis Kaboul preferring a move to Portsmouth.

Roy Keane will be looking to get one over on his former club’s biggest rivals, but will be most looking forward to trying to claim a priceless three points on the opening day of the 2008/9 season. But the Irishman is disappointed at the news that Michael Chopra will miss the game through suspension.

Rafa Benitez’s options are restricted thanks to the absences of Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva, who are all still involved at the Olympic games and also Philipp Degen and Fabio Aurelio remain sidelined. But Steven Gerrard’s return to action last night should be an indication that he will be fit to captain the team from the off on Saturday.

Andrea Dossena and Robbie Keane are likely to make their Premiership debuts for the club in a side that is likely to only see one change from the Standard Liege encounter. Damien Plessis is most likely to be the player to miss out, with Gerrard set to take his place in midfield.

This fixture ended in a 2-0 win for the Reds last season with goals from Andrei Voronin and Momo Sissoko, also in August. A repeat of that performance and result would be most welcome to Benitez and his team after a poor start to competitive action in Belgium.

This is be the first time Benitez will be able to name seven substitutes on the bench, which will give him plenty more options when it comes to making changes. The likes of Krisztian Nemeth, Dani Pacheco, Jay Spearing and David N’Gog are the likeliest to benefit from the extension of the bench and will be looking to make the most of any opportunities they are given.

The match will be officiated by Alan Wiley.

Likely team: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Dossena, Alonso, Gerrard, Benayoun, Kuyt, Keane, Torres.



Match Preview: Standard Liege v Liverpool by lfctalk
August 13, 2008, 11:46
Filed under: Match Previews

Royal Standard de Liège v Liverpool FC
Wednesday 13th August 2008

A relatively short trip across the water to Belgium for this season’s Champions League Third Qualifying Round see’s us come up against Belgian Champions Standard Liége. Laszlo Boloni’s side ended a twenty-five year wait for a domestic crown after a dry run much like the one our own club is suffering. Hopefully we won’t suffer as long a wait.

We have met Standard Liege before. In the 1965-66 European Cup Winners’ Cup second round, we beat the Belgians 5-2 on aggregate on the way to a 2-1 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the final.

Les Rouches are the third biggest club in Belgium behind Anderlecht and Club Brugge. They won the league title last season with three games remaining, including a 31 game unbeaten streak. The title sealing victory was over rivals Anderlecht, with two goals from Dieumerci Mbokani – an ex-Anderlecht player. Marouane Fellaini was watched by 32 scouts at that fixture. The young defensive Belgian U/21 player has a growing reputation in Belgium and throughout Europe. Many are surprised that a move to a bigger European club hasn’t materialised this Summer.

Young Belgian playmaker Steven Dufour captains the side with Brazilian forward Igor De Camargo his vice-captain. Nineteen year old winger Axel Witsel is a player to look out for as well. The youngster has attracted attention from around Europe and will be looking to make an impact against the Reds.
This away leg will be played in Standard’s Stade Maurice Dufrasne in Liege. The ground can hold a little over 30,000 fans and is likely to be a sell-out for the biggest game Standard have played in over two decades.

Liege have had many famous players over the years, including former Belgium internationals Eric Gerets, Marc Wilmots and Michel Preud’homme. The former Croatia star Robert Prosinecki, the Mpenza brothers Emile and Mbo and Ronny Rosenthal, who left Liege for Liverpool.

It is likely to be Robbie Keane and Andrea Dossena’s full debuts for the club. Each player has featured heavily in preseason since their signings from Tottenham and Udinese respectively. Other new faces Diego Cavalieri and David N’Gog are likely to be on the bench for this encounter and Swiss right-back Philipp Degen will be unavailable due to injury.

Club Captain Steven Gerrard picked up a knock in Oslo but travels with the squad and may feature or be risked. This risk, combined with the loss of Javier Mascherano, Lucas and Ryan Babel, indicates that Xabi Alonso should start in midfield. It’s an extraordinary turnaround for the Spanish playmaker after a Summer flirtation with the Anfield exit. His market value would drop heavily if he features and is, in turn, exempt from playing for another side in this season’s Champions League. It would be a disappointment to the settled midfielder if he plays and is then sold to another Champions League side, as those clubs are the only he will be considering acquistion of his services.

Gareth Barry has missed the deadline for registration for this stage of the competition, should he be signed before the game. The likeliness of that move appears to be dropping by the day, yet again. Barry is said to be upset at the lack of activity after staying behind from a Villa preseason tour this week. Rafa Benitez is also reported to be angry about the American’s lack of willingness to provide the funds for the move after admitting they consider his pricetag “too high”. It’s an interesting situation for Benitez and his desire to sign the Villa captain.

Rafa Benitez has indicated that the team that started the Lazio friendly would tee-off the Champions League qualifier.

He told the official website: “More or less the side that played against Lazio will be the one that plays in the Champions League on Wednesday in Belgium.

“Most of the senior players were involved, this will be the side that plays against Standard Liege.

“The situation has been very difficult for us, we have had a lot of players returning to training late after international games in the summer and now we have players at the Olympics.

“It has given me a chance to see the young players during pre-season, and I am sure that the future of the club is guaranteed.” said the Spanish coach.

Team (provisional): Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Dossena, Kuyt, Gerrard, Alonso, Benayoun, Torres, Keane.
Subs (from): Cavalieri, Plessis, Ngog, Spearing, Hyypia, Pennant, Darby.

Tickets are currently still available from the ticket office, but due to the proximity of the game are only being offered to residents of the United Kingdom.

The game is being shown by ITV and coverage will be available on the LFCtv channel in the days after.