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Every month the focus of my editorial seems to be ‘Wow! Can this really be happening? Or is this all a great big dream?’. But we’re now only a couple of games shy of half-way through the season, and we’re still up there challenging for the Premier League trophy (and there is a real possibility that we will top the table within the next couple of weeks), then we have to stop pinching ourselves and start believing. Flukes, luck and good fortune can only help you get near the top of the league for a short time – to be still up there after 16 games shows that we have a very capable side. The league table never lies, and it currently says that we are the (second) best football team in the country. A few years ago, I would’ve given my right arm just to be in this situation, regardless of how badly (or boringly) we played – so to do it with style, panache and attacking spirit, makes this all the sweeter. Brendan Rodgers clearly is a man with a plan, and, given the turnaround we have seen in just 18 months, I am already getting excited for the years that lie ahead: particularly with getting back on our rightful ‘perch’ over the next few seasons (whilst the team up the road languish in mid-table with mediocre players in a mediocre team)… Christmas is obviously a time for the family, but it is also a time for football – we all love the tradition of games coming thick and fast on boxing day, the weekend, and New Years day. City and Chelsea away are not games I would hand-pick for this time of year, but, heck, I didn’t fancy us away at Spurs! It is getting points from these sort of games which are really going to show us if we can start to get the bunting out in May… Have a brilliant Christmas, and a fantastic New Year. YNWA
Message from the Editor
Excited for the new season!
Fan rants and opinion
We’re still there at the half-way stage, but is it too soon to start dreaming?
Our review of the season so far, and where it has all gone so right for us...
We weren’t happy a year ago, but did BR get his transfer policy spot-on this time around?
Brendan’s Best Buys
Who are the best three signings of the 2013/14 season?
The transfer window could be crucial for us— we look at the options
All I want for Christmas...
What does Brendan Rodgers want for Christmas? Paul Baker knows.
Presents from LFC Will you be buying the Official LFC Baubles? Or play it safe with an Aspas shirt?
First Time at Anfield
Can you remember your first time? Paul McFarland’s wife tried it out vs Norwich.
On the Pitch
A look back on the last month’s games. We’re in it to win it!
Focus on: Jon Flanagan
He got his chance and he took it with both hands. Set to be a star.
We’ve had a mini-revolution in the Academy, but Michael Reid thinks BR is doing it right.
The Month Ahead
We preview the big fixtures, and predict the results (and we’re only slightly biased!)
Best of Youtube
Our pick of the best Youtube footage of the Liverpool vs Chelsea matches
Daniel Sturridge is well on his way to becoming a Kop Hero...
As Clear as Day Is the obsession with Suarez and Sturridge harming our creativity?
Dear Anfield Roar, Have to say, having just watched the Spurs match, that this was a fizzing Liverpool performance which gave me lashings of joy. The whole team played well but a few stood out. Sterling for one just tore Spurs up on the right side throughout the first half. In fact Henderson and Sterling seemed to run the first half. Suarez scored just as the commentator mentioned he was the only Liverpool player not on the same wavelength and after that he just grew more influential. Flanagan had an excellent game and it was great to see his and the teams joy at his goal. Joe Allen played really well to silence critics. MOTM for me though was Henderson, first to everything, busting a gut but more importantly making intelligent runs again and again. Darren Anderson, Kirkby _________________________________________________________________ Dear Anfield Roar As a Liverpool fan, I'm slightly embarrassed to see my fellow reds using Jordan Hendersons' obvious improvement as some sort of 'let's all laugh at stupid Fergie' stick. Much as I can't stand the man, I don't think he's bothered. That being said though, Fergie has brought any such comment on himself. The criticism at the time was small, petty and pointless. This is the autobiography of the most successful manager in the game. 6
POSTBOX That he saw fit to use space in his book to have a cheap pop at Liverpool by publicly embarrassing a young English player (England U-21 captain) trying to make his way in the game said everything about what a horrible person he is. Jordan's response to it and his performances over the last 18 months show what a class professional he is. Long may it continue. Alan Carter, Liverpool _________________________________________________________________ Dear Anfield Roar, There's no doubt Henderson is a very good player, and that was why Dalglish paid so much for him. I always assumed he was signed as one for the future - certainly his performances at Sunderland (I saw a handful) demonstrated a good young player who still had a lot of potential left to fulfil. A few people made the point he seemed to be unshackled by Gerrard's absence in this match. What happens when he returns? When he was younger at Sunderland there were a couple of games where injuries led him to be pushed further forward (he's done that a couple of times at Liverpool I seem to remember), so his contribution with nowhere to hide was more obvious, and when it was needed, he really could even then have a much more visible impact. There's no doubt he can be a key player. Maybe his next big (not gangly) stride forward would be to demonstrate the maturity and responsibility to have a massive influence on a game off his own bat, regardless of whether his manager has told him to step up to the plate. Tommy , Doncaster __________________________________________________________________ Dear Anfield Roar, Just wanted to remind fans who were calling for Rodgers to go last season that he has now proved himself to be an excellent coach. 7
POSTBOX Some might point out an obvious one but it's very hard to think of a player he's persisted with who hasn't improved under him. He even had Downing playing usefully by the end of last year. Though he does seem to have exhibited cold feet with some of his own signings- hasn't given too much game time to Allen ,Borini and Aspas, even as he's brought through Sterling, Suso, Flanagan, Coutinho and improved Henderson, Skrtel, Sturridge etc. Still though, if he can keep Allen's performance level up, and Sakho stays in the side, most of his transfers will have thus far worked out. (Mignolet being an almost overlooked success as well as Sturridge and Coutinho.) Ed Reilly, Milton Keynes _________________________________________________________________ Dear Anfield Roar, If Suarez keeps this up, heâ€™ll soon have to be put in the same bracket as Messi and Ronaldo. Once again, he was sublime! Dare I say, that the Liverpool midfield looked more fluid without Gerrard? There was a really good balance to the midfield. Henderson stood out, but Allen, Lucas and Coutinho also impressed. Tom Jordan, Exeter
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This is a new community section of our Fanzine, where we highlight issues or news on behalf of other LFC fans around the world to show that we are, indeed, not walking alone. A Global Game A Liverpool FC-themed school and clinic have been built in a West African village! When mum-of-two Angela Carter visited Gambia for a week's holiday with her husband Barry in March 2012, she was so appalled there was no school in the little village of Wullingkamma that she decided she had to do something, and returned having raised more than £20,000. “The school had been closed for six months and the nearest one was three miles away. With no cars and the heat, the children simply couldn't walk there everyday.“ By September 2012, a school with four classrooms, a toilet block and headteacher's office was complete and around 220 children aged seven to 12 were back in education. But it wasn't until Angela went back for the official opening did she get the nicest surprise of all. Angela said: “In our honour, they named all the classrooms after Liverpool players and even had You'll Never Walk Alone written on the walls. All the kids are now LFC fans!" Anyone who would like more details or to make a donation can email firstname.lastname@example.org Readers in Nepal? Liverpool FC Supporters Club from Nepal announce an event to honor National Cricket Team Captain Paras Khadka. Paras Khadka being a Liverpool Fan, the LFC supporters club will be honouring Khadka at Atmosphere Lounge and Bar, Kamaladi on Sunday 29th, after the live screening of Chelsea - Liverpool. If you have an issue or idea that you would like to share with fellow LFC fans, then please get in touch!
CHAMPIONS? Seriously, we’re in second spot just before Christmas. Is it time to start dreaming, asks Michael Reid. In Brendan Rodgers’ first season at the helm of Liverpool, he steered the historic football club to a 7th place Premier League finish. His side finished 12 points below Arsenal in 4th and, even more painfully from a Reds supporter’s perspective, 28 points below the champions Manchester United. Now, Liverpool lie in 2nd place; just two points below and Arsenal and more encouragingly eight points above Manchester United – stark contrast to the position Liverpool were in at the end of last season relative to those two clubs. It is this somewhat drastic increase in fortunes that sees Liverpool fans daring to dream, daring to believe. Whether the supporters are right to do so may be questioned more so with the upcoming Christmas trips to the Etihad and Stamford Bridge. For now, Liverpool are in a position they have not been in for many a season now, and of course the fans should savour it. 10
CHAMPIONS Take away what has happened up to press this campaign and look back to before a ball had even been kicked in the Premier League; before, even, a transfer had been made last Summer. Analysing last seasonâ€™s top seven sides, signs were there that the 2013/14 season would be the most open of Premier League title races. Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City were all forced into key managerial changes. Tottenham were inevitably to lose their star man from last season. Only Arsenal and Liverpool had almost total stability within their ranks, and look who are the top two sides right now!
For now, Liverpool are in a position they have not been in for many a season now, and of course the fans should savour it. Whilst Liverpool did have the Suarez saga infuriatingly hanging over their heads until September when the transfer window shut, unlike rivals Tottenham, the Reds managed to keep their most expensive asset. Boy has that paid off! He may have only played 11 of the first 16 games of the season, but Suarez is already well ahead in the race for the Golden Boot with 17 goals, an average of one every 58 minutes and 6 seconds.Take a moment to comprehend that. If that isnâ€™t a striker playing for a title contending side, then Iâ€™m not sure what is! He has four more than his nearest rival for top spot Sergio Aguero. Two more than van Persie and Rooney combined. Six more than Giroud and Oezil combined. Indeed the Uruguayan has even scored twice more than the entire Tottenham side after 16 games. 11
CHAMPIONS However one man cannot single handedly win a team a Premier League title â€“ there are 38 games in a season and every man in the squad needs to chip in at some point. Sturridge and Gerrard are out for Liverpool at the moment and others, therefore, must come to the fore if they are to have a glimmer of hope for their first Premier League trophy this season. Liverpool do not have the depth of squad that the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea have at their disposal. To beat these two teams will be a mammoth task on its own.
Strength in depth
Then take into account Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton and Man Utd, none of whom can be stricken off the longer than ever top four/ title contenders list.
Then take into account Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton and Man Utd, none of whom can be stricken off the longer than ever top four/title contenders list. January may well be pivotal. Possibly so much so that we may look back at the end of this season and see that the team who had the best January window went on to win. Just 8 points separate top from seventh right now and even if that is doubled after game 38 of the season, a 16 point gap doesnâ€™t come close to the 28 points that was the difference last time around. That is how tight it is this season, and it is also why January transfers could well be key for anyone who is aiming for glory.
CHAMPIONS So can it be done? Can Liverpool win the league in 2013/14? The answer is yes, but that is the same answer for more clubs than ever before. However if Liverpool fans maintain belief, if the likes of Suarez can stay fit (and not banned), if clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs fail to reach the heights that their extortionate spending demands, then why can’t Liverpool do it? Hope is what every Liverpool fan has always had and now it is needed more than ever. This is a season of ever changing unpredictability. Next month we may well be talking in a completely different tune on this same topic. For now though, let’s enjoy the thought of success. Who knows what it’ll lead to... YNWA
Expertly written by: Michael Reid Feedback? Send your feedback to : email@example.com
FLYING HIGH Arun Kannan looks back over the last few months, and likes what he sees... It’s December already, so let us call this a mid-season review. We are at in unfamiliar position in the league table, especially for this time of the year! Liverpool usually have mediocre starts to the season, and we don’t actually tend to get our act together until the second half of the season - So how did we get so much better over one season? Tactics? Players? Sheer luck? I personally think the signs were there even during our (more dismal) campaign last season. There were short spurts in games last season in which you could see Brendan Rodger’s vision for Liverpool FC. He wanted this fluid, easy on the eye style of football and we showed glimpses of it. Fast forward to this season. Brendan made most of his summer signings early and had a full pre-season with the squad. The only grey cloud looming all over our pre-season was Luis Suarez’s supposed flirtation with joining Wenger’s army down south. I think it’s clear to see what Brendan has been trying to achieve with this club ever since he took over the managerial hot seat f rom Daglish. He brands his football after the ‘tiki-taka’ style made famous by the dominant Barcelona a few seasons ago. This style of football is an evolution of the ‘Total Football’ played by the late Ajax and Dutch national sides led by the great Rinus Michels. 14
FLYING HIGH If we go back to earlier this season, we played some exemplary possession football for short durations in matches. When we play this kind of football, Liverpool are nearly unstoppable. In my opinion, the team at that stage of the season did not have the fitness levels yet to maintain sustained periods of possession football. There was a stretch of 15 minutes in the first half at Villa Park this season where we played fluid one touch football and totally battered the Villains. This was an indication of things to come this season, barring major injuries to important players. We are not blessed with the deepest of squads this season.
The signs were there even during our campaign last season - short spurts in games last season in which you could see Brendan Rodger’s vision for LFC. Football aficionados might be ask, why the ‘tiki-taka’ style for Liverpool? I think it’s more than just emulating a winning brand of football that Barcelona employed. ‘Tiki-taka’ is a team based style of football that is almost tailor-made for a team like Liverpool, who do not have a squad filled with superstars. It is also a style that complements a superstar attacking player with that player being the focus of the attack almost like the pinnacle of a triangle, and all through-balls and passes aimed at that player. No guesses that for Liverpool this player is our Uruguayan magician. Think Lionel Messi at Barcelona. Okay, the game at White Hart Lane just happened. What a result, and did we even see it happening? There was one point I made in my article last month. It was regarding our midfield and the lack of mobility we seem to have with both Gerrard and Lucas playing together. The problem is both players are more suited to sitting deep and dictating play from further back. Gerrard with his long searching balls that create a high tempo pace from the back and Lucas by breaking up play and starting moves that convert defending into attacking movement. 15
FLYING HIGH When both Gerrard and Lucas play, Henderson and Coutinho are a bit isolated and have to come deep often to collect the ball. Gerrard’s injury might be the catalyst the team needed. Joe Allen comes into the team and Lucas goes back into his natural position of defensive anchor. Henderson and Allen have the mobility and legs to interchange with each other and create pockets of triangles every time Liverpool have possession. These triangles are the fundamentals of ‘tiki-taka’ football. In short, a Liverpool player in possession has 2 players to pick a pass to at any given time which increases the chances of retaining possession and breaking down the opponents pressure. Allen and Henderson ran rings around Tottenham’s midfield and were impossible to mark. Coutinho, Sterling and Suarez provide the outlet balls for the midfield duo and this strategy proved supremely effective. I think this is how Rodger’s would like to see Liverpool play especially in midfield post the Gerrard era. Henderson, Allen and Lucas are also much more adept at pressuring high up the pitch when the opposition are in possession of the ball and inspire our other forward players to do the same. We do have some frailties at the back by trying to play the ball out of defence when we could clear the ball much sooner but I think this is down to the football ideal that seems instilled in this institution of trying to play the ball each time we are in possession. It’s sometimes scary to think that this Liverpool team is a ‘work in progress’ and Brendan Rodgers is still perfecting his tactics, system and players. With January coming up and more Rodger’s signings to complement both the first team and squad, I would dare say it again. We may be ending our 23 year wait this season. Expertly written by: Arun Kannan Tweet us your thoughts - @anfieldroarmag
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MAKING CHANGES Thomas Jordan looks at where we did better than our rivals— even though they spent millions more... The Premier League has seen some impressive new arrivals this summer around the clubs. Two of the usual big-spenders, Chelsea and Manchester City, have kept up their busy transfer reputations, bringing in big names such as Willian, Schürrle, Navas and Negredo. But there was one team between July and September that was busier than ever, spending £109million on new players. Spurs did manage to recoup £85million of that hefty sum through the sale of a certain left-footed Welsh winger (and it’s not Ryan Giggs), but the result of this substantial outlay so far has been a jumbled squad of un-adapted, expensive and ineffective foreigners. Up in Liverpool, a much more balanced approach has been taken, with Brendan Rogers quietly making some ‘shrewd’ signings. 18
CHANGES Once Rogers’ main transfer priority of retaining Liverpool’s Luis Suarez had effectively been accomplished after the continual rejection of Arsenal’s insultingly low bids, the Welsh manager began to dig into the transfer market himself, and came up with some valuable finds. Rather than spending big on unproven, young or foreign players such as Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado, Rogers went for players with Premier League experience, which has allowed for a very swift gelling of the squad. This goes a long way to explaining the disparity between Liverpool and Tottenham with regards to their league starts this year, highlighted by the Reds’ 5-0 thrashing of Spurs in mid-December.
Rogers went for players with Premier League experience, which has allowed for a very swift gelling of the squad. First, Rogers replaced the increasingly inconsistent Pepe Reina with Simon Mignolet, a keeper who had already spent three formative years in the Premiership with Sunderland and has thus made an excellent start to the season. He then cleverly supplemented the squad with further top-division experience through the signings of Kolo Toure and Victor Moses, both of whom cost the club nothing in transfer fees and have been playing the Premiership for many years. This reflects Rogers’ attitude last January, when he invested the relatively small sum of £12million in Daniel Sturridge, who had been playing in the Premier League for 7 and a half years at three different clubs before joining the Reds. Compare this with Spurs’ incoming players and it’s easy to see why Liverpool’s squad has been able to excel from the off this season.
CHANGES Undoubtedly a wealth of talent arrived at Tottenham this summer in the form of Eriksen, Lamela, Paulinho, Capoue, Soldado, Chiriches and Chadli, but none of these players have any previous experience of competing in the top division of England.
As a result, Spurs have yet to click as team, with Soldado scoring just one goal from open-play in the league so far (we are now 16 games in), while record signing Erik Lamela has started just two league games. It is certainly indicative of their flawed transfer tactics that their shining light this season has been Andros Townsend as he earned an England call-up, a player who has spent the last four years on loan at various English clubs, including a final year in the Premier League with QPR.
The difference is purely in the number of players expected to seamlessly slot in as regular first-team players. One might wonder why this hasnâ€™t happened to the same extent at other clubs, such as City and Chelsea, who also made large investments before the season began. The difference is purely in the number of players expected to seamlessly slot in as regular first-team players. Both of these teams have bought expensive foreign talent, but only one or two of these players have immediately been thrust into the first eleven. Recently signed foreigners such as De Bruyne, SchĂźrrle and Willian are being made to wait in the wings at Chelsea behind the previously established trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar, whereas four new Spurs acquisitions started in their recent 5-0 loss to Liverpool. 20
CHANGES Liverpool on the other hand have effectively kept their starting lineup from last season, with the exceptions of Mamadou Sakho, who has gradually settled in well alongside teammates who already know how to play alongside each other, and Mignolet, who has previous Premier League experience and requires less integration as a goalkeeper. 2012/13
A similar effect can be observed at Arsenal, where the only major addition has been the world-class Mesut Özil, leaving a virtually untouched first eleven that has perhaps finally developed into a genuine title contending team. Among many other factors, including the unstoppable Luis Suarez, Rogers’ ‘shrewd’ signings have allowed Liverpool to make their best Premier League start since 2008/09, when the club went on to finish just four points behind champions Manchester United. The team has been allowed to gel comfortably in comparison to a Spurs side that is noticeably fractured and unformed. This is down to the tactical nous of the Welsh manager, who has balanced his shopping list perfectly to bring in adaptable recruits. Expertly written by: Thomas Jordan Tweet Thomas - @teejbusbys1 21
BRENDANâ€™S BEST BUYS SIMON MIGNOLET
The Belgian goalkeeper has had an outstanding start to his Liverpool career, keeping clean sheets for the opening three league games, pulling off countless excellent saves. He immediately endeared himself to the Anfield faithful, who have quickly forgotten former Reds keeper Pepe Reina, by saving a penalty on the opening day of the season against Stoke. At just 25 years of age, he certainly has plenty more to offer in the future. It is still early days, but it is not overly optimistic to wonder whether Rogers has found his consistent no.1 who could nail down his place for the next ten years. If so, ÂŁ10million could be an absolute bargain. 22
MAMADOU SAKHO After an arguably shaky start, the French international has settled nicely into the heart of defence. Although forced to play in an unfamiliar back three at times, Sakho has look much more comfortable in a conventional centre-back partnership with Martin Skrtel and is quickly beginning to win over fans who thought perhaps the £18m price tag a little steep. It may take time for the former PSG defender to fully integrate into English football, but Sakho undoubtedly has talent and has long been admired by the top clubs. He has even managed to get himself on the score sheet recently, helping France reach the World Cup via the playoffs with two goals against Ukraine. Definitely one for the future.
KOLO TOURE Kolo Toure was brought in on a free by Brendan Rogers and will provide excellent cover throughout the season for the new defensive partnership of Sakho and Skrtel. Kolo certainly won’t be here for more than a couple of seasons as he enters the final stages of his successful career, but he has enough quality to put in solid performances when needed, as shown by the two clean sheets kept as he started the opening two league games of the season. Inevitably the lovable Ivorian is already a fans-favourite, and while he may not be as technically adept as the other defenders in the squad, he is certainly a worthwhile addition considering his top-level experience, as well the opportunity for some hilarious fraternal-based chants (look up the ‘Yaya Kolo song’ on Youtube…)! Expertly written by: Thomas Jordan Tweet Thomas - @teejbusbys1 23
JANUARY SALES Where are we short? Ross Webber looks at who we might be expecting in the January transfer window. It is shaping up to be another important January transfer window for Liverpool. Following injury setbacks to Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge, Brendan Rodgers has been forced to look at potential replacements in order to build on his squad at Anfield. But what areas need strengthening? And who are the players currently on Rodgersâ€™ radar? Disregarding Sturridgeâ€™s unfortunate ankle injury picked up at the start of the month, the manager has been keen to add depth to his attack. Iago Aspas has yet to make an impact at Liverpool, struggling with injuries and adapting to the English game. As a result, the Reds once again are relying on the resources of Luis Suarez who unsurprisingly is returning in spectacular fashion. Nevertheless, Rodgers will not want to throw all of his eggs in one basket with Suarez and an attacker will be at the top of his list.
JANUARY In addition, the boss could be looking to strengthen his full back positions. Young Jon Flanagan has recently deputised for the injured Jose Enrique at left back and despite playing on his weaker left side, Flanagan’s form has been tremendous. Aly Cissokho has also made a number of appearances for the Reds this season without making a huge impact. The Frenchman is of course only on a season long loan at Anfield and Rodgers will perhaps be looking for a long-term option as back up to Enrique. On the opposite side of the pitch, the right back position may be in development. Beyond Glen Johnson, there only really is Martin Kelly who is struggling for fitness since returning from injury. Flanagan could too be shuffled to his familiar side, but the manager may be looking for a more experienced defender to battle Johnson for the position.
Rodgers will not want to throw all of his eggs in one basket with Suarez and an attacker will be at the top of his list. So who could be on Rodgers’ radar? Many rumours seem to suggest a move could be made for the young Egyptian Mohamed Salah. Dubbed the ‘Egyptian Messi”, Salah has been highly impressive in the Champions League this season and has attracted the attention of a number of teams in Europe. The 21 year old attacker could well be a potential star should Liverpool make Basel a bid in January. 25
JANUARY Martin Montoya has found himself down the pecking order at Barcelona and Liverpool representatives have reportedly shown a lot of interest in the Spanish full back. Montoya can comfortably do a job on either side of the defence and could offer good competition as well as adequate cover to Enrique and Johnson. Another Barcelona outcast who Liverpool could look to steal is forward Pedro. The Spaniard has only made a handful of appearances for the Catalan side this season with the likes of Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez and Neymar first choice at the Nou Camp. With a World Cup on the horizon, Pedro has reportedly announced his intentions to leave Barcelona should he fail to find more game time. Manchester United are also keen to battle Liverpool for the attacker but Pedro would certainly be a good option going forward for the Reds. Another full back whose name has been mentioned is Chelsea defender Ryan Bertrand. The English left back has worked with Rodgers before and has found himself outside of Jose Mourinhoâ€™s plans. Bertrand is a promising homegrown talent who would offer good cover to Enrique having made a number of League and Champs League appearances for Chelsea under previous management. Expertly written by: Ross Webber Rossâ€™s site is liverpoolnewsandviews.tumblr.com 26
All I want for Christmas... What does Brendan Rodgers want for Christmas? Paul Baker takes a punt... It is now 5 sleeps to go until Christmas Day, but more importantly it is less than two weeks until the January transfer window opens. What will be on the Manager's Christmas list? Top of it, will be to ensure Luis Suarez is still in a Reds shirt come the 1st of February. I personally don't see this being a major issue during January. The real battle will begin, after the World Cup, which is less than six months away. If he continues his Liverpool form for his Country, there will be a long line of teams wanting to sign him!
Suarez wrapped up...
The next item on his list could be consistency. The defeat away to Hull was deeply disappointing. The team lacked the attacking edge which had been evident during the previous few weeks. The Boss will want the team to continue the form shown in some of the past games and build upon it. 27
ALL I WANT The next item of his list will be one or two new impact signings. After the success of Sturridge and Coutinho, signed last January, he will be looking to sign players that will be able hit the ground running and support the team in maintaining the push for the vital top 4 finish. This season is currently one of the most open in recent memory. The team need to ensure progress is being made, before other teams settle in their new players and overtake us. Our recent opponents, Spurs, being a good example.
Top of it, will be to ensure Luis Suarez is still in a Reds shirt come the 1st of February One player that could make an impact is French international Blaise Matuidi of PSG. His contract ends in the summer, so the transfer fee may suit the club financially. Matuidi is a combative player and is a strong tackler of the ball. For a defensive player he has shown good creative ability. For example during last season's Champions League game against Barcelona, he completed 88% of his passes and won 75% of his tackles. I am sure BR has some names on his wish list, but this may be affected by the need to sign a new central midfielder, due to the current injury crisis in that position. 28
ALL I WANT Stevie G, looks to be out until the New Year at least. Jordan Henderson's injury is a little bit more uncertain, but images of him limping around Melwood training ground in a foot brace in not a sight any fan wants to see. The games come thick and fast over Christmas, so this is an ideal chance for Joe Allen to show the fans why the Manager paid ÂŁ15 million for him. Most fans agree he has the ability, but he needs to show it on the field and produce results.
The final item on BR's Christmas wish list may be to sort out a new long term deal. With the progress made, both on and off the pitch, he thoroughly deserves a new deal. This probably won't be on his mind too much, as he will be focusing on maintaining the good start to the first half of the season. Expertly written by: Paul Baker Feedback? Send your feedback to : @paul_baker
Presents from LFC Paul Baker takes a look at the best of the LFC branded Christmas stocking filler tat! With the growth of the club's Mega Stores here and around the globe, and the ease of buying goods online, the range of gifts and presents available to fans for Christmas time is huge! Most fans I know live and breathe LFC, but may draw the line at buying some of the goods on offer during the silly season. This is nothing against the team. We all want the same thing, a successful club, challenging for the title, but some of us don't feel the need to show our love and passion, in what we buy. For many LFC fans it is in our heart and soul! The Christmas Baubles (Pack of 12, £10) may look very festive, but I am not sure what the Wife would say if I asked her to decorate the tree with them! Same goes for the Christmas Snowboard Gnome (£12) and the Christmas Springy Hat (£8) The LFC Christmas crackers are more acceptable, a box of 6 Deluxe ones only £10. I think most fans would get away with them being on the table. Buying gifts and presents this time of year is always tricky. I for one have no idea where to start. This is where being married comes in helpful. The trick is to be led by the better half. 30
PRESENTS Christmas shopping is a bit like football: most of the time it is best to be a spectator! My best position is at the checkout holding the credit card! If I was to buy a gift from the mega store for a fellow fan, I would play it safe and stick to something like a replica shirt (£45) As long as you pick the correct size, you can't go far wrong! I would advise staying clear of the machine that prints names and numbers. Always a risk during the January transfer window. Especially if your friend or family member asked Father Christmas for a Reds shirt with Iago Aspas on the back! One item for sale, that may suit more traditional and maybe slightly older fans (Myself included), is the LFC Subbuteo game (£39.99). Hours and hours of fun, re-creating the past great teams. How would have the great Bill Stanley have managed Suarez? Who from the current team would make it into the past European Cup winning teams? For the more active of fans, check out the 4ft table football (£120.00) A great way to exercise and stay warm at the same time!
Christmas shopping is a bit like football: most of the time it is best to be a spectator! The item which is top of my Christmas list, apart from a white Christmas, is something that unfortunately is not sold in the shop!, maximum points during December. I want the players to continue the good form shown during this year and carry it forward into 2014. Never mind the World Cup, let the players focus on a top 4 finish and Champions League football next season.
Expertly written by: Paul Baker Feedback? Send your feedback to : @paul_baker 31
FIRST TIME AT ANFIELD Paul McFarland brings the Anfield experience to life, with tale of his wife’s first visit to all LFC fans’ spiritual home... The date is 4/12/2013 and it’s my wife Maggie’s first visit to Anfield. After years of asking her (albeit half-hearted at times), I have finally convinced her to go. Now, Maggie can take or leave football depending on her mood (with me haha). But just over the last few weeks she has really been getting into how Liverpool are doing. It’s around this time of year I usually make a trip to watch LFC with a few mates, but this year, for some unknown reason, they decided to go to the darts in Butlins last weekend instead. Yep I couldn't believe it myself. Billy, Hammy, Ritchie, Keith and Mark - there you go lads named and shamed, named and shamed. So now, I'm thinking if wee Mags really enjoys this match, it looks like I'm gonna have to dump that other rabble and go with Maggie from now on. Or alternatively, I could go twice in December if those other muppets ever get over their new found love of darts. But anyway here's how the trip went:
Would you trust this man?
FIRST TIME Up at 5.15am and head to the airport at 6am. Everything went smooth, arrive in Liverpool 8.45am, the weather is a bit cold but dry (thank god). We get to the hotel via bus and ditch our bags in the Hotel (Hampton by the Hilton) and head straight to The Hub for some breakfast. Then we decide to go to the Liverpool store in town as we have a few hours to kill, and save us (me) some drinking time later as the shop at Anfield on match day is like a TV sale in Asda on Black Friday. Maggie is like a kid in a toy shop. She even got herself a pink & white Liverpool hat & scarf. Afterwards itâ€™s a quick coffee where we have our first disagreement of the day (note I said first :-). Maggie suggests that we walk down the street and shop for Christmas jumpers. A quick head shake and a no chance (or words to that effect) ends that conversation. Probably to be taken up again 5 or 10 years down the road. So shopping trip over and we go back to the hotel to get checked in and relax for an hour or two before heading up to the Holy Grail of football. We head over to the bus station and jump on the number 26 to Anfield. Time to sit back and relax and let the driver do his thing. After 30 minutes or so, the bus stops right outside Anfield where Maggie and myself have a quick debate. Drinks first or a quick walk around the stadium...? A walk around the stadium it is then. I take Maggie over to the Shankly statue where a lovely woman agrees to take a photo of us both (thanks Mrs). Then we walk round to the Hillsbourgh Memorial to pay our respects. After walking around the rest of the stadium, we go over to the Arkle for a couple of drinks. It's about 5pm and I'm a bit surprised 33
FIRST TIME that when we walk in there's a table with a couple of seats free which we grab. We stay in the Arkle for an hour or so as the crowd begins to gather and you can notice the buzz starting to build and by the time we leave at 18.15 the place is packed. The only reason we're leaving so early is A proper LFC pub because we have tickets for the Premier lounges, so it's up to the Paisley lounge to enjoy the pre-match buffet and a few more drinks (just to be social of course). Now don't get me wrong, I usually have ordinary tickets for the matches, as most people know the premier club tickets can be a bit pricey, but this was Maggies first trip so I thought, why not? I think I can safely say she was as pleased with the set up as I was the first time I accidentally stumbled on it, and if you're looking to push the boat out every once in a while then I highly recommend it. Pre-match stuff out of the way, it's time to make our way up to the seats and I can see Maggie is starting to get a bit caught up in the atmosphere. We get to our seats and the Kop start singing you'll never walk alone as the players come out onto the pitch. I'm sitting back watching Maggie, and she has the biggest smile on her face that after 16 years together you don't see that often haha (only joking love). The game starts and everything on the pitch goes like I had written the script for the match myself: 15 mins in and Suarez first goal... Holy good God what a goal...! 34
FIRST TIME I was absolutely speechless and for people that don't know me, that takes some doing. By half time Liverpool are 3-0 up with another two goals 28 mins & 34 mins from Suarez. His third one near as good as the first, but not quite. So after a brilliant 45 minutes we go back down to the lounge for a nice warm cup of tea where we get to see the Suarez show on the tv again. That guy is unreal, what else can you say?! We get back up to our seats to see the second half starting and Maggie is still smiling and enjoying the whole thing as much as I
Maggie has the biggest smile on her face that after 16 years together you don't see that often! am. On the 74 min, it's another cracker from Suarez, a free kick straight into the corner. I can't believe it: four for Suarez and the match still has 16 mins plus injury time to go! I swear itâ€™s like Suarez has read my letter to Santa or something! Then in the 82 min Norwich get a goal back to make it 4-1. I'm a bit annoyed it won't be a clean sheet, but I'm feeling cocky because I know there's no danger of anything but a Liverpool win, and my faith is restored in the 88 min when Raheem Sterling puts one in and makes it 5-1, and that more or less sees us through to the whistle. After the match we go back down to the lounge and have another drink, and watch the second half of the Luis Suarez show on TV. I could've sat there all night watching those goals over and over again, but Maggie decides we had better head back to the hotel. We leave the ground and go over to the bus stop and join the biggest queue I have ever seen at a bus stop in my life. But my worries were unfounded as it also was the quickest I've ever seen a queue disappear. 35
FIRST TIME We get back into the hotel around 11pm where it just happens they're showing the Liverpool match highlights, so I've no choice but to order a couple more drinks for Maggie and myself to enjoy. We get up the next morning and we decide to go shopping, and when I say we decided I mean, Maggie decided. As we walk from the hotel to the shops (10 mins away) we get caught in a downpour and get soaked to the skin, but anyway I'm on a mission because in the Liverpool store the day before, Iâ€™d seen a signed John Barnes picture and mentioned it to Maggie and she said if you want I'll get you it for Christmas, sure have a think about it. So I thought about it and now I'm getting it haha. Then it's into Starbucks for a coffee for me while Maggie goes for a wander, looking for Christmas jumpers no doubt. Wtf is it this year with people and christmas jumpers? I don't care I am not wearing one. If I was really that determined to look like a dick on Christmas Day I would just get a Man Utd top ffs .....bah humbug :-). Shopping trip over and it's back to the hotel to collect our bags, and order a taxi to take us to the airport. At the airport we have a slight drama about taking the John Barnes picture on to the plane...they (the airline) want 30 quid to take it but my wife has other ideas...after a quick debate Maggie wins and John Barnes is safely on the airplane with me (as hand luggage) back to Belfast. All in all, it was probably one of the best Liverpool trips I've been on. The flights, hotel, getting to the ground all went like clockwork, then the tickets, the goals and the result: all fantastic. So the question is would I take my wife Maggie again...... yes definitely. So marks out of ten for the weekend.... hhhhhmmmm i'll have to say nine....well it should have been 5-0 hahaha and as for Keith, Billy and Hammy etc they will just have to wait and see if I've traded them in for this one trip or permanently. Oh.....and Maggie said she really enjoyed it too ;-) Expertly written by: Paul McFarland Feedback? Send your feedback to : firstname.lastname@example.org 36
How did Liverpool do on the pitch over the last month? George Way guides us through our wins, draws and losses... Everton vs. Liverpool 23/11/13 The first game since the release of the last issue, and it couldnâ€™t have been any bigger, or more exciting. The first Merseyside derby of the season was eagerly anticipated, with both sides playing not only for local bragging rights, but a massive boost to their league campaigns. The atmosphere reflected the importance of the game, with all fans from both sides setting up what was to be a great spectacle of a match. The game kicked off and instantly the play was end to end. After only 5 minutes, the Reds drew first blood: Coutinho making the most of poor defensive work off a corner. In spite of the early goal, Everton still seemed confident, and piled men forward until 3 minutes later, when (after a Leighton Baines free-kick), Kevin Mirallas blasted the ball past a helpless Mignolet.
ON THE PITCH The goal could be considered lucky given that Mirallas should have probably been sent off for a horrific challenge made on Suarez just before. The last of the first half goals was certainly the best, as Suarez converted a perfect curling free kick from range on 19 mins. The rest of the half continued to be well contested, and the game continued in this vein long into the second. Everton continued to press heavily, and shocked everybody by grabbing 2 goals to take the lead going into the last 10 minutes – Lukaku converting well on both occasions. But there was one twist still left to reveal itself. After coming off the bench, Daniel Sturridge continued his impressive start to the season by smartly converting a header past Howard, to bring one of the greatest ever Merseyside derbys to a close, the score 3-3. MOTM: After an incredible performance, Suarez could have grabbed more than just the one goal, but he still is my Man of the Match.
Hull vs. Liverpool 1/12/13 The entire footballing world would have expected the Reds to win this one, going into the first weekend of December; whatever was predicted, this was unfortunately not to be. On a weekend where the Reds needed a win to stay in line with Chelsea, we started very slowly, with some lacklustre performances from the defence. This was capitalised on quickly by Hull, with Jake Livermore scoring after his shot was deflected by Martin Skrtel. Shortly afterwards though, the tables seemed to have turned, when Liverpool equalised via a Steven Gerrard free kick – this did not give the boost most of us would of anticipated. The game slowed in pace with few opportunities for either side until late on – as the Liverpool defence showed signs of collapse, Hull broke through again, with David Meyler keeping a cool head to beat Mignolet.
ON THE PITCH As Liverpool (missing the injured Sturridge) pushed for an equaliser, attempts were split equally between the sides, but it was to be Hull to convert yet again. This time there could be no question over the own goal by Skrtel, as he capped an awful day for the Reds. MOTM: Difficult to single any one player out… Probs not Skrtel.
Liverpool vs. Norwich 4/12/13 The 4th of December could not have come around fast enough for most Liverpool fans, as it provided the opportunity to bounce back from the defeat to Hull the previous Sunday. Furthermore, if given the chance to choose the opponent for such an event, most would have selected this opposition. Norwich came to Anfield having suffered greatly against the Reds in recent years, and straight from kick off it was clear that they were up for another ‘backs-against the wall’ performance again. Their resilience was short lived, as after 15 minutes Suarez blasted a volley home from an incredible 40 yards, leaving English keeper John Ruddy with no chance. The goal seemed to have little effect on Norwich though, as they showed no signs of pushing for an No chance! equaliser; and for this they were quickly punished – at the half hour mark Suarez guided the ball in from close range. In spite of his persistent trickery Norwich didn’t seem to have learnt their lesson, as the Uruguayan completed his hat-trick on the 35th minute. 39
ON THE PITCH Finally, it seemed that Norwich were showing some resolve, as they held Liverpool back for around 40 minutes, but it was not enough to stop Suarez scoring yet again against the Canaries. This time it was from a sublime free-kick on the edge of the area. The next point of interest in the game came as a surprise to many, as Johnson pulled one back to make it 4-1. However, it was Liverpool who had the last laugh, as Sterling grabbed his 1st of the season, this time Suarez getting the assist. MOTM: For the assist, and of course his 4 spectacular goals, it has to be Suarez Involved in all 5
“I haven’t seen many individual performances like that before. It was a joy to watch, sheer brilliance from one of the best strikers in the world.” Rodgers Liverpool vs. West Ham 7/12/13 The West Ham feature was the 3rd game for Liverpool in a week, and it was as highly anticipated as any of them, by both sides; Liverpool trying to retain our position near the top of the table, whereas the Hammers were trying to get off the foot of it. This was evident from kick off, as both sides pushed to go into the lead, and had both not been so wasteful in this early stage, the game maybe would have had a different outcome. As it went, Liverpool were the first to make the most of an opportunity, and even then the goal came from a West Ham player, Demel, after a series of deflections. In a game that contained many goals of the same description, the second fitted the bill perfectly, although it was Sakho who has 40
ON THE PITCH since been credited with giving Liverpool a 2-0 lead early on in the second period. In the minutes that followed, West Ham began to show signs of a comeback, and then got the stroke of luck they probably deserved when Skrtel put the ball into his own net as a result of persistent pressure. Despite their promising intent, they were soon punished by the ever sharp Luis Suarez, who headed home from a Glen Johnson cross. The misery didn’t end there for West Ham, as they had captain Nolan deservedly sent off for an aggressive tackle on Henderson. From the attack that followed, Suarez found himself in a position to shoot from the edge of the area. He did exactly that, and his shot led to a huge deflection which in turn curled the ball into the top corner past a helpless Jääskeläinen. This goal summed up what was a miserable day for West Ham, and a great day for the Reds, and a 4-1 victory which left us in 2nd place at the end of the weekend. Tottenham vs. Liverpool 15/12/13 Trips to White Hart Lane, have, in recent years provided a challenge to Liverpool, such to the extent that if Liverpool were to get a result, they would have to beat the trend of their last 6 visits. From the off, it was evident that a reshaped Liverpool side were eager to make this happen; Henderson took up his role in central midfield in such a fashion you could have been forgiven for forgetting the absence of Steven Gerrard. And it was good work from Henderson which led to the Red’s breakthrough, as he surged through without the ball, and then won and flicked it into the path of Suarez, who in typical fashion went round his marker and slotted it into the bottom corner.
ON THE PITCH Following the goal, Spurs pushed forward, although this did not prevent Liverpool from always attempting to play the ball from defence in a calm, considered manner. From this, we seemed to work some reasonable chances, including one on the 40th minute, when Henderson was able to volley home to make it 2-0 after Tottenham failed to clear their lines. The second half couldn’t have come soon enough for a Liverpool side eager to increase their lead, but it was Soldado who could have scored immediately after the teams re-emerged. Shortly afterwards, Sakho looked to kill the game, but was denied by the post. It was at the hour mark, however, that the game truly swayed in the direction of the Reds, when Paulinho was sent off for a high boot on Suarez. Liverpool quickly capitalized on this, as everybody poured forward; and it was Flanagan however who got on the end of Suarez’ ball in and hammered home the goal, and in doing so confirmed the 3 points on a superb day in London for the Reds. But that was not the last of the action, as Suarez dinked home a sublime chip to bring the total to 4. In spite of the short time left, Liverpool’s effort was continuous and they were rewarded with a 5th, through Raheem Sterling. MOTM: Henderson after his incredible work rate, and great leadership throughout.
Expertly written by: George Way - you can send your feedback to us and we’ll pass it on - email@example.com
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Focus on: Jon
FLANAGAN As a local boy he’s had a struggle to win the Kop over, but Emma Rhodes reckons he is finally starting to... Liverpool’s number 38 has been the player on every red fan’s lips as Rodgers has given the young scouser a number of opportunities throughout the last month. Keen observers of the Premier League would have been surprised to see the 20 year old defender slot effortlessly back into the side. Flanagan made his first team debut at Anfield in April 2011 against Manchester City. Liverpool memorably won 3-0 and Flanagan as only an 18 year old went to play the full 90 minutes. Dalglish was pleased the with the young players debut, "For us that is really encouraging as well because it is a reflection of the work that is being done at the academy and if we have a strong academy it can only benefit us for years to come." It is believed Flanagan thanked Kenny for the confidence he had shown in him and he could not have played under a better manager.
FLANAGAN In Rodgers first full season Flanagan struggled to make an impact on the first team, facing increased competition with both Andre Wisdom and Jack Robinson often preferred. After the Being Liverpool documentary, in which Flanagan featured heavily, his absence went largely unnoticed by the fans and media. However this season has looked a lot more promising for the youngster as he started his first Premier League game in 18 months against Arsenal in November after Johnson fell ill and with Enrique side-lined through injury. Despite the lack of faith from many fans on social media, arguably the biggest impact Flanagan has made on the team so far would be his Merseyside derby debut. Throughout the most exciting Derby in years, Flanagan rarely looked out of place in the 3-3 draw. Skipper Gerrard admitted when Flanagan entered the dressing room after the game, the entire squad gave him a round of applause for his tremendous efforts.
“He reminded me of a young Carra in the way he executed tackles and bust a gut to chase after lost causes. He is all about heart, desire, determination and fighting for the cause. He's a local lad and you don't need to tell them what the derby means.” Gerrard The young defender appears to be remaining humble, expressing his thanks for the congratulations given to him after the derby, @jon_flan93: “Thanks everyone for the messages. On the couch watchin the boxing.” Rodgers is feeling increasingly confident with Jon after he barely featured last season. His constant experimentation at the back this season has led to a few questions being raised but with Flanagan a natural fit at full-back, it appears they may have been answered. 45
FLANAGAN With Wisdom and Robinson out on loan and Enrique injured until at least February, this could definitely be the time for Flanagan to impress as Rodgers has admitted his latest performances has certainly given him “food for thought.” Even former defender Carragher expressed his feelings for Flanagan, "We talk about young English players getting a chance, well Flanagan gets a chance and is one of the best players in the derby match. Now he has the confidence of Rodgers, I think we'll see a lot more of him."
The new Carragher?
Rodgers did not hold back words of encouragement for Jon either claiming his performance was outstanding, “I thought Jon Flanagan was excellent at Hull. In all the negativity after the game I don’t think he gave the ball away once." After another fantastic performance against West Ham, Jon is looking to the future “Great 3 points today, after a long week. We go again next week at Tottenham.” He didn’t predict it in his tweet, but he scored an absolute scorcher against Spurs as we went on to trash them 5-0! I think it is safe to say all eyes shall be on the young defender in hope this rich vein of form can continue. Expertly written by: Emma Rhodes Feedback? Send your feedback to : firstname.lastname@example.org
Aizaz Sheikh reflects on the changes to the academy - does BR know what he’s doing? As Man United’s "Class of '92" reunited in early December to launch a documentary about five (ok, it was six, but let’s agree to not put Phil Neville in to this category, please) talented footballers, who came through their youth ranks, and conquered European football together, it's a good time to bring Academies under the spotlight. Namely ours. Just over a week earlier, Brendan Rodgers decided to reshuffle our Academy, and perhaps this (somewhat unexpected) move presents his biggest risk to date. Was handing Frank McParland and Rodolfo Borrell, Academy Director and Technical Director respectively, their P45 a simple refresh, or an attempted fix at something that wasn’t broken in the first place? McParland and Borrell may not have even put their feet up by the time one of their products, Jon Flanagan, excelled (almost Carragher-like) in an unnatural left-back role in a passionate Merseyside derby. His performance alone means they were getting something right. In fact, this has been somewhat of a prolific period of Academy graduates. In the last few years, Jay Spearing, Martin Kelly, Jack Robinson, Andre Wisdom, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Ibe, Adam Morgan, Suso, and of course, Flanagan have appeared for Liverpool’s first team in the Premier League. And big things are also expected of Jerome Sinclair and Conor Coady in the future.
ACADEMY You would have to go to the 90s to find the last time Liverpool had that kind of a production line, and although you may say that none of these are star names like Michael Owen or Steven Gerrard, even if the Academy only takes care of squad players in the short-term, the benefits, both financial, and for the identity of the team are undisputed. McParland, a former scout, and Borrell (alongside former technical director Pep Segura) themselves arrived at the academy in a similar revolution in 2009 under Rafael Benitez. Borrell and Segura came from La Masia, Barcelona’s famous youth setup, and like many of their continental counterparts, the trio adopted a synchronized playing style across all of Liverpool’s youth teams. In 2012, McParland was quoted as saying that the style was about “pressing hard, keeping the ball and being very comfortable in possession”, so given that Brendan Rodgers had identified this as his preferred style of play when unveiled as manager a few months earlier, it seemed a marriage made in heaven. So, why make the shift at this time? And why has no one given a clear explanation as to what is going on? Now, before making any conclusions, it has to be said that Rodgers himself knows a thing or two about youth team football. Brendan rose to prominence as Chelsea's youth team manager under Jose Mourinho, so if there is something behind the scenes that isn’t quite working, he is definitely qualified to point it out.
Brendan rose to prominence as Chelsea's youth team manager under Jose Mourinho, so if there is something behind the scenes that isn’t quite working, he is definitely qualified to point it out. He can also add more weight to the argument that the players that have been mentioned in this article are not quite what we need from the Academy. Five (not six) of the Manchester United graduates from ’92, the 48
ACADEMY Ajax graduates around the same period (Bergkamp, De Boer twins etc), and the mid-to-late 00s graduates from La Masia definitely have an air of quality that our current crop cannot come close to at this age. Take a quick peak across Stanley Park and Ross Barkley emphasises this further. But surely, to develop this, McParland and Borrell needed time. The first crop may not have met the highest standards, but over time, continuity and consistency are two major factors that could have helped raise the bar. Nothing can be achieved overnight - even the sugar daddy clubs of the modern era sometimes struggle to Guess whoâ€Ś Aged 16 create an instant impact. So perhaps this situation ultimately boils down to legacy. Not that Brendan Rodgers wakes up and drives to Melwood thinking of not being able to bring Liverpool back to the Promised Land, either by winning the league, or securing Champions League qualification year after year, but maybe he, as a deep thinker and football romantic, feels that he has had a brainwave of how to spark the academy into a conveyor belt of homegrown players. And considering his principle objectives are more dependent on factors way out of his control, such as Eastern billionaires, Brendan may feel that he has much more chance of tangible success in an area where he can have the biggest influence. One things is for sure - the clock is ticking. Itâ€™s almost a month from when the reshuffle was announced and not a word has been muttered about the direction the club has in mind. The rumour mill has linked Tony Pennock, the now former academy head at Rodgers' former club, Swansea, but whatever direction Liverpool end up taking, just reaching the current standard will be a task itself. Expertly written by: Aizaz Sheikh Tweet us your thoughts - @anfieldroarmag
Gary McParnaby looks at the matches coming up - will we still be in with a shout after these…? The next month is a busy one for LFC – there are a whipping seven games, and, at the end of it, it is likely to be a good indication as to how the season will pan out. With key players missing and some games against big opposition, I think it would be fair to say that if we are still near the top come late January, we can be considered genuine title contenders. And it all starts with the eminently winnable game, at Anfield, against Cardiff this weekend. It’s not exactly a game which will excite the fans, but the fact that if we win it then we will go top of the league (albeit with Arsenal being a point below, but with a game in hand)! What a way to celebrate Christmas that would be! Just when we get to the top of the tree, then there are two stern tests: matches against City and Chelsea away are arguably two of our toughest five games of the season, so for them to come back to back could be hard work. Particularly with City’s home record. It could also work in our favour though – beating City would undoubtedly give the lads a real confidence boost ahead of facing Chelsea. Ideally, we’d win both, but realistically, I’ll gladly take four points from these two games.
FIXTURES And after that, the rest of the month will seem like a bit of a canter: Hull at Anfield: three points. Oldham at Anfield in the FA cup: through to the 4th round, and the chance to play a few of the fringe players. Stoke away: (a scrappy) three points. Villa at home: three points, Lambert sacked. So 16 points from six games, and we’ll be there or thereabouts for the run-in! Comp Prem
Opposition Cardiff (h)
Date Sat 21st Dec
Man City (a)
Thur 26th Dec
Sun 29th Dec
Wed 1st Jan
Sun 5th Jan
Sun 12 Jan
Sat 18 Jan
Again? Expertly written by: Gary McParnaby - you can send your feedback to us and we’ll pass it on - email@example.com
Our bi game this month is against Chelsea. We look back at some classic moments in matches against the blues.
Liverpool 4 - Chelsea 1
May 2012 Liverpool gained revenge for the FA Cup final defeat with an emphatic win over a lacklustre Chelsea to end the Blues' hopes of a top-four finish. 52
YOUTUBE Chelsea 4 - Liverpool 4
April 2009 Chelsea survived a huge scare before drawing one of the most entertaining Champions League games of recent times to seal a 7-5 aggregate win over Liverpool. Luis Garcia's Ghost Goal
May 2005 The first leg of this semi-final clash passed with little incident, and Jose Mourinho took a record of having never lost at a semi-final stage to Anfield. Just 4 minutes in Garcia pounced to flick towards goal. Gallas was covering and crashed the ball away, but a goal was given.
Send us your favourites - @anfieldroarmag 53
KOP HERO It hasn’t taken him long to become indispensible… Emmanuel Ivan takes a look at a new Kop Hero - Daniel Sturridge. With a squad that clearly lacks depth, the festive period will be a difficult fitness and character test for Brendan Rodgers’ team, especially after the injury suffered by Daniel Sturridge. Currently being ruled out for up to eight weeks following an ankle ligament strain sustained in training, it seems that Liverpool’s talented striker will surely miss some crucial away games against City and Chelsea. Before the blow suffered in training, the 24-year-old managed a total of nine goals and two assists in just twelve Premier League games. With Suarez banned from the first five games, Sturridge stepped up to the task and provided. Four decisive goals in four games, goals that resulted a total of 10 points out of 12. What seems amazing to me, is the partnership that formed between Daniel and Luis. It’s absolutely incredible! 54
STURRIDGE From their first game together, it seemed obvious that they shared the same vision of the game, despite the fact that they had probably just trained together for a couple of times, and probably couldn’t even communicate properly. Can’t wait to see them together on the field again! I don’t want to emphasise too much on this subject, but I just felt the need to mention the incompetence displayed by England’s so called manager Hodgson.
“Keeping the faith. I'm pushing myself to be better than before the injury. God willing a quick recovery and I'll be back playing soon!" - Sturridge As if it wasn’t enough that his decision to ‘test Daniel’s resolve’ in a friendly was one of the reasons behind the striker’s injury, he decided to speak out on this situation, by claiming: 'Better to be injured now than in the summer'. There are too many arguments that can prove Woy’s stupidity, so I will move on to our actual subject... I sincerely hope that Daniel will come back with fresh forces, and with the same outstanding form that he’s shown since his transfer from Chelsea. Until then, let’s remember that it’s all about the team, and not about a single player. We all wish you a speedy recovery Daniel! Expertly written by: Ivan Emanuel You can tweet Ivan at @emy_2good
There will be one less iconic bloke kitted out in red and running around delivering presents for others this Christmas. Thankfully for our younger readers, jolly old Saint Nick hasn't fired the elves nor sent Donner, Blitzen and co. to a RSPCA re-housing programme, and is still scheduled to do his annual rounds on Christmas Eve. Steven Gerrard, however, will be a notable absentee for many football fans around the world as the Premier League undertakes its end of year fixture pile-up without the Liverpool captain. The 33-year-old, out until January with a hamstring strain, still embodies everything that is good about the football club and recent talk of his ongoing demise is premature. Sure, Gerrard's game has had to change with age but his influence remains and, with the exception of Luis Suarez, he still represents our best and most consistent performer. Up until last weekend, the club legend had started all 17 of Liverpool's league and cup games this season, contributing three goals and six assists. In the 15 Premier League games alone he had completed 1,015 passes, with a success rate of 87%, and created 34 chances for others. Although Gerrard clearly covers less ground than in his pomp, even his attacking thrusts forward remain dangerous and welltimed; just look at the late goal against Poland which secured Englandâ€™s qualification to next summer's World Cup.
CLEAR AS DAY From set pieces his powers have certainly not diminished as the spectacular strike against Hull City and assists for all four of the goals against Fulham prove. The skipper has always been about more than just a statistical contribution anyway; often his sheer presence and will-to-win are enough to spur the team on.
The skipper has always been about more than just a statistical contribution anyway; often his sheer presence and will-to-win are enough Gerrard's career is littered with outstanding moments and telling contributions, and although I believe he has plenty more left in him, the next few weeks will represent an interesting glimpse into the future. The absence of Jamie Carragher, who retired last summer, is still being felt around Anfield so it is hard to fully comprehend what life after Gerrard will be like. That moment will inevitably come of course and in the meantime the likes of Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Luis Alberto will be keen to prove the club already possesses viable alternatives. Last Sunday's stunning 5-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, a ground where we had lost on our previous six visits, showed that Brendan Rodgers' side can certainly cope on the odd occasion. The task now is to do it over a longer period and then ultimately to do it without Gerrard, who could conceivably be third in the all time Liverpool appearances list by the end of the season, permanently.
CLEAR AS DAY With further away fixtures at Manchester City and Chelsea before 2013 is done, it will be interesting to see where we stand when the New Year arrives. At the time of writing the Reds sit second and given our next game, against Cardiff City at Anfield, is a 12.45pm kick-off on Saturday we may well be top of the pile by the time current leaders Arsenal next take to the field. I think it is still a little too much for fans to expect that to remain the case until May but a top four finish now looks more realistic than ever. Hopefully, with Gerrard and fellow England international Daniel Sturridge back fit, and some new recruits in January, we can push on and improve further as the season develops. Meanwhile, in the spirit of the festive season (and because I'm slightly under the word count!), I will leave you this month with a couple of my favourite Christmas cracker jokes: What does Santa suffer from if he gets stuck in a chimney? Claustrophobia! What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck? A Christmas Quacker! Itâ€™s Christmas! Merry Christmas one and all...
Expertly written by: Gavin Day - tweet him @superbag Visit Gavinâ€™s site at http://www.liverpool.vitalfootball.co.uk
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