Prem result: Wigan 0 Liverpool 1

Barclays Premier League, September 29th 2007

Wigan 0 Liverpool 1

Liverpool left it late to win this one, substitute Yossi Benayoun coming to the rescue with his 75th minute goal, his second goal in two games. Liverpool went into third place as a result, although Manchester United were to play their fixture later in the evening. Continue reading Prem result: Wigan 0 Liverpool 1

Wigan v Reds: Torres starts

Liverpool fans will be delighted that Fernando Torres has been handed another start today. After scoring a brilliant hat-trick in midweek there will be a lot of hope that Torres can score more against one of the Premier League’s lower teams. Liverpool beat Wigan 4-0 at the JJB Stadium last season, but Wigan have changed manager since then as well as making many signings.

Alongside Torres up front is Dirk Kuyt, with Gerrard and Mascherano behind them in central midfield. Jermaine Pennant starts on the right wing with Rafa likely to use Riise on the left-hand-side of midfield, with Aurelio at left-back, although the two can interchange.

Steven Finnan gets a rest this weekend with ever-present Arbeloa taking over the right-back role. Hyypia and Carragher are the centre-backs and of course Pepe Reina, still unbeaten in open play this season, is in goal.

Peter Crouch doesn’t make the 16.

Wigan: 1 Kirkland, 25 Melchiot, 17 Boyce, 19 Bramble, 8 Kilbane, 18 Scharner, 24 Skoko, 11 Brown, 10 Koumas, 15 Aghahowa, 23 Bent
Subs: 12 Pollitt, 2 Taylor, 4 Granqvist, 5 Hall, 20 Olembe

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 4 Hyypia, 23 Carragher, 12 Aurelio, 16 Pennant, 8 Gerrard, 20 Mascherano, 6 Riise, 9 Torres, 18 Kuyt
Subs: 30 Itandje, 3 Finnan, 10 Voronin, 11 Benayoun, 22 Sissoko

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Kick-off: 3.00pm BST

Ref switch for Wigan match

There has been a late change of referee for Liverpool’s game against Wigan tomorrow. The original plan was for Steven Bennett to take charge, but with Wigan waiting for the conclusion of disciplinary procedures against them from incidents involving Bennett it was decided a switch was necessary.

Wigan actually had to point the situation out to the Premier League. The action relates to their match against Newcastle, for which they have already pleaded guilty for failing to control their players. However in their view part of the reason for the indiscipline was the poor performance of Bennett and so they are awaiting the league’s decision. Bennett sent off Kevin Kilbane and reported two other Wigan players for contesting his decision. Mark Clattenburg is to step in.

Wigan boss Chris Hutchings said: “It was nothing to do with me but obviously it’s common sense. It would have put everyone under pressure – the referee, ourselves, the players – as it is only four weeks since Steve last refereed us. But had he still been in charge tomorrow, we would have accepted that decision and got on with the job.”

Liverpool haven’t been fans of Bennett’s approach to games in the past, in particular when playing Arsenal. It was no surprise that he officiated poorly in the FA Cup match at Anfield last season, after his performance the season before in the league when he actually sent Xabi Alonso off for an incident he didn’t see, and without consulting his assistants. Xabi had slipped, and got a second yellow as a result, yet Bennett was unsighted as replays clearly showed. No apology was ever made.

Prem result: Liverpool 0 Birmingham 0

Barclays Premier League, September 22nd 2007

Liverpool 0 Birmingham 0

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 4 Hyypia, 23 Carragher, 6 Riise, 16 Pennant (3 Finnan, 87), 8 Gerrard, 20 Mascherano, 19 Babel (9 Torres, 60), 18 Kuyt, 10 Voronin (15 Crouch, 74)
Unused subs: 30 Itandje, 22 Sissoko

Birmingham: 1 Taylor, 2 Kelly, 16 Djourou, 6 Ridgewell, 15 Queudrue, 7 Larsson, 28 Palacios (8 O’Connor, 68), 12 Nafti, 29 Melendez (11 McSheffrey, 13), 23 Kapo, 10 Jerome (5 Schmitz, 80)
Unused subs: 18 Kingson, 9 Forssell
Bookings: Ridgewell 64, McSheffrey 69

Stats: (Liverpool – Birmingham)
Possession: 56% – 44%
Shots on target: 4 – 2
Shots off target: 15 – 4
Corners: 11 – 2
Fouls: 3 – 10

Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 44,215

Reds v Derby: Torres and Kuyt up front

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has picked a strong side to face Derby County at Anfield this afternoon. With Jamie Carragher missing from the defence, Sami Hyypia gets to start again alongside Daniel Agger; Alvaro Arbeloa gets the nod at left-back ahead of Riise who’s on the bench. No Steven Gerrard, also injured, so Alonso and Mascherano are chosen to start, flanked by Ryan Babel and Jermaine Pennant. Kuyt and Torres are up front, with Andriy Voronin on the bench.

No place in the 16 for Peter Crouch again, but now the transfer window is closed the speculation about what that means might be a little quieter.

Today’s game is the last for Liverpool for two weeks, with internationals taking place in-between.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan,4 Hyypia, 5 Agger, 17 Arbeloa, 16 Pennant, 20 Mascherano, 14 Alonso, 19 Babel, 9 Torres, 18 Kuyt
Subs: 30 Itandje, 6 Riise, 10 Voronin, 11 Benayoun, 22 Sissoko

Derby: 43 Bywater, 18 Griffin, 21 Malcolm, 19 Davis, 3 Camara, 17 Todd, 11 Fagan, 8 Oakley, 24 Mears, 25 Pearson, 9 Howard
Subs: 1 Price, 4 McEveley, 10 Earnshaw, 16 Teale, 23 Moore

Referee: Alan Wiley

Prem result / reaction: Sunderland 0 Liverpool 2

Barclays Premier League – August 25th 2007.

Sunderland 0 Liverpool 2

Liverpool ended their 2-0 win over Sunderland with two of their three recognised central defenders injured. Sami Hyypia was replaced after 15 minutes following an earlier injury to his nose which would not stop bleeding, and was causing blurred vision: it was later confirmed to be a broken nose. Sami may still have to play on Tuesday despite the injury, after his fellow centre-back Jamie Carragher went off injured too. In Carra’s case it seems more serious, a rib injury caused accidentally by the knee of Pepe Reina. There is still no official news from the club as to whether the ribs were broken or bruised, or how long he’s set to be out for – but it could be as much as six weeks. Continue reading Prem result / reaction: Sunderland 0 Liverpool 2

Prem Result: Reds 1 Chelsea 1

Barclays Premier League – 19th August 2007.

Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1

Record signing Fernando Torres scored his first goal for Liverpool in his Anfield debut, but referee Rob Styles was determined to grab the headlines away from the £18m striker and managed to do so with ease. His award of a penalty for Chelsea gave the London side an undeserved point (it was their only shot on target in the whole game) but was just one of many clangers made by the Hampshire referee and his officials today.

Following on from a defeat for Manchester United and with Arsenal only managing a draw the three points Liverpool deserved would have put confidence sky-high. Chelsea will know they were lucky to escape with a point.

Torres had limped off for the half-time break after Jon Mikel Obi had jumped two-footed onto his ankle. If Styles had seen that he might well have sent Obi off – but judging by his performance today he may have booked Torres for diving instead.

Styles’ decision making on bookings was poor – allowing John Terry to get away with pushing his forehead into Torres’ forehead, and seemingly trying to book Essien twice without sending him off. If Styles is allowed to referee any more Premiership games in the next couple of months it sends out the wrong signal to referees, players and fans.

Rafa Benitez was furious after the game, his normally calm exterior not there for once, slamming the penalty decision as “unbelievable”.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Arbeloa, Pennant (Babel 68), Gerrard, Alonso, Riise (Crouch 83), Torres, Kuyt.
Unused subs: Itandje, Hyypia, Mascherano.
Torres 16
Bookings: Kuyt 30, Pennant 40, Gerrard 43, Carragher 61

Chelsea: Cech, Essien, Ben-Haim, Terry, A Cole, Kalou (Pizarro 46), Wright-Phillips (J Cole 77), Obi, Lampard, Malouda (Alex 85), Drogba.
Unused subs: Cudicini, Makelele.
Lampard 62 (pen)
Essien 12Bookings: Essien 12, Cole 59, Ben-Haim 63, Lampard 70, Terry 74

Rob Styles

Attendance: 43,924

Prem: Liverpool v Chelsea

Barclays Premier League19th August 2007.

Liverpool v Chelsea, Kick-off 4pm

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard does start for Liverpool, and does start in central midfield. Like Chelsea’s captain John Terry he’s not exactly 100% fit but both manager felt they’d rather have their most important players on the pitch than off it.
Up front for Liverpool are Kuyt and Torres, Peter Crouch dropping to the bench. Ryan Babel is also on the bench, with Jermaine Pennant getting the nod on the right wing.
For the members of the media obsessed with Rafa’s rotation policy, this is the same starting eleven as he used for last weekend’s opener against Villa.

Chelsea have one-time Liverpool target Malouda on the wing.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Agger, Carragher, Arbeloa, Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Riise, Kuyt, Torres.

Subs: Itandje, Hyypia, Crouch, Babel, Mascherano

Chelsea: Cech, Essien, Ben-Haim, Terry, A Cole, Wright-Phillips, Obi, Lampard, Malouda, Kalou, Drogba
Subs: Cudicini, Alex, Makelele, J Cole, Pizarro.

Rob Styles

Gerrard: “About time the lads let me take one”

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was predictably delighted with his free-kick winner against Aston Villa today, but Villa manager Martin O’Neill was hugely disappointed, claiming it shouldn’t even have been a free-kick. Either way the 2-1 result sets Liverpool off on the right track, with the Reds determined to put an end to the slow starts they’ve made to previous seasons.

Gerrard told Setanta Sports: “Over the last few seasons we have been frustrated with the start we’ve made, we’ve lost silly points and been playing catch-up, the idea this time is to come out of the blocks quickly and stay in the title race. We were pleased with the first 60 minutes – I thought we controlled the game. Villa came back into the game but we managed to pull it out of the bag late doors.” Continue reading Gerrard: “About time the lads let me take one”

Prem result: Villa 1 Liverpool 2

Barclays Premier League August 11th 2007.

Aston Villa 1 Liverpool 2

Liverpool have opened the season with three points after beating Aston Villa at Villa Park. Despite Liverpool being in control for the vast majority of the game Villa always looked dangerous, and will be disappointed that they came out of the game without any points. In the end it was a wonder free-kick from Reds captain Steven Gerrard that won the day.Rafa Benitez gave Fernando Torres his full debut for today’s league opener against Aston Villa, but the rest of his starting eleven were all ‘old’ players. Itandje, Babel and Voronin did get a place on the bench, but the manager stuck to using the players he felt he knew best for the start of the season.

John Arne Riise was pushed into midfield with Arbeloa used as left-back, after the unlucky Harry Kewell had been ruled out yet again through injury. Steven Gerrard at least got his wish for the first game, playing in the centre of midfield with Xabi Alonso.

Liverpool were a goal up at half-time but it wasn’t even a Liverpool player’s name on the scoresheet. A Laursen own goal divided the teams at the break, the Villa defender under pressure to clear from a Kuyt cross, after the Dutchman retrieved the ball from the byline after a shot from Torres had been saved.

Pennant was lucky that Mike Riley wasn’t in the mood he usually seems to be in when he officiates Liverpool games. Just minutes after being booked he was fouled by Villa’s Bouma, and reacted angrily. Riley booked Bouma and warned Pennant. Pennant made way after 74 minutes for Liverpool’s second debutante of the day. Ryan Babel was brought on and had a chance within two minutes. After running at pace at the Villa defence he passed the ball to Kuyt, who crossed back again to his compatriot. Babel’s attempt at curling it into the right hand side of the goal didn’t quite work out and the shot went narrowly wide. Five minutes later and Babel was again trying to score, this time his shot producing an excellent save from the current Villa goalkeeper Taylor. Taylor will be replaced in the starting line-up for Villa’s next game by Liverpool’s goalkeeper Scott Carson, who is now on a season-long loan at Villa Park but not allowed to play against his own club.

Torres wasn’t to score on his debut, but should be pleased with his introduction to the English game. The £18m signing was replaced after 78 minutes by free-signing and fellow striker Andriy Voronin.

After 84 minutes Mike Riley remembered it was Liverpool he was refereeing against, and awarded Villa a penalty. Jamie Carragher accidentally handled the ball in the box, and booked Reina in the seconds before the penalty was taken. Gareth Barry, booked earlier for cheating, too the penalty and beat Reina.

Then Riley upset the Villa players, officials and fans when awarding the Reds a free-kick around 30 yards out. The club captain Gerrard insisted he would take it, and that decision proved to be the right one. Gerrard couldn’t have hit it any better, it flew into the top-right corner and will surely still be a candidate for goal of the season in nine months when this season is at its end.

There was a scare in stoppage time when Reina was forced to tip over from a Carew shot but the Reds hung on and for once have started a season with three points. Liverpool fought hard for those three points, and even if it wasn’t always pretty they did deserve their victory. These are the kinds of games Liverpool often drop points in and it looked like that was how it was going to go today after Villa got their penalty. Liverpool will no doubt raise their game for the next match – against new enemies Chelsea – but these games against the team lower down the league need to be won if they are going to challenge their bigger enemies for the title.

Aston Villa: 13 Taylor, 26 Gardner, 4 Mellberg, 5 Laursen (21 Cahill, 45), 3 Bouma (8 Moore, 71), 19 Petrov, 20 Reo-Coker, 6 Barry, 11 Agbonlahor, 10 Carew, 7 Young
Unused subs: 9 Harewood, 27 Osbourne, 28 Maloney
Booked: Mellberg 26, Bouma 58, Barry 67, Petrov 89
Goals: Barry 85 (pen)

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan, 23 Carragher, 5 Agger, 17 Arbeloa, 16 Pennant (19 Babel, 74), 8 Gerrard, 14 Alonso, 6 Riise, 9 Torres (10 Voronin, 79), 18 Kuyt,(22 Sissoko, 90)
Unused subs: 30 Itandje, 4 Hyypia
Booked: Pennant 55, Reina 84
Goals: Laursen (OG) 31, Gerrard 87

Referee: Mike Riley

Attendance: 42,640