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Rodgers' Reds: Class is Permanent

The journey of Brendan Rodgers as he aims to bring Liverpool back to where they belong.
Started on 14 January 2015 by Glenn T
Latest Reply on 28 October 2015 by Maximus
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Match Report: Capital One Cup Semi Final Leg 1



Despite being considerably overwhelmed by the possession football that had earned Liverpool so much success this season, Manchester United still managed to run out of Old Trafford 2-0 winners of the Capital One Cup Semi Final's first leg.

Liverpool had 20 shots at goal, exactly two times of United's 10, yet were unable to find a goal by 90 minutes thanks in part to their horrendous finishing as well as an outstanding performance from David de Gea.

There weren't much surprises in the lineups of both teams, Liverpool and United naturally fielding some of their best players to compete against each other. The only interesting selection came from Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal, who opted to start Anderson instead of Di Maria.

Liverpool had to contend with youth team keeper Daniel Ward on the bench with Brad Jones out due to a training injury, while United missed a far more vital man, star striker Radamel Falcao, who will also not be playing in the second leg because of an unfortunately mistimed twisted knee.



Starting 11: Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Balanta, Moreno; Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling; Markovic, Coutinho; Sturridge
Used Subs: Lucas (Gerrard, 51 min), Balotelli (Sturridge, 61 min)
Unused Subs: Ward, Flanagan, Manquillo, Sakho, Lallana



Starting 11: de Gea; Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Blind; Herrera, Fellaini, Anderson; Mata; van Persie, Rooney
Used Subs: Di Maria (Anderson, 78 min)
Unused Subs: Lindegaard, Evans, Valencia, Young, Vertonghen, Januzaj

The first chance of the game came relatively quickly with Liverpool earning a first-minute corner, and they capitalized on the opportunity, with Steven Gerrard sweeping the ball into the feet of Lazar Markovic, who in turn provided a brilliant pass for Daniel Sturridge. The England forward's shot was, fortunately for United, blocked by Phil Jones and cleared out of the danger area in a hurry.

Some fantastic play from Liverpool again saw Philippe Coutinho and Markovic link up from the left with the former of the two delivering the finishing shot, but it went straight into the safe hands of David de Gea, a save that would prove to be the first of many.


David de Gea was kept extremely busy by Liverpool's attack

United had some chances of their own. Thwarted by the solid defensive partnership of Martin Skrtel and Eder Alvarez Balanta constantly, they eventually found a way through with Wayne Rooney playing a great ball for Robin van Persie to latch onto, leaving him on a one-on-one with Simon Mignolet. However, the lethal Dutch striker was superbly denied by an awe-inspiring save.

Fluid in their passing, the Reds kept possession throughout and were definitely the better side for the first 25 minutes, creating numerous chances only to be stopped time after time by United's defenders and the spectacular de Gea.

But the one that made the breakthrough wasn't Liverpool. The architect was none other than Rooney himself, having received the ball from Ander Herrera in a dangerous position, and unselfishly played in the oncoming Juan Mata for the Spaniard to unleash it.


Juan Mata celebrates breaking the deadlock with his stunning strike

Liverpool were brought back down to earth, and their frustrations were clear. Martin Skrtel picked up a booking for an unnecessary challenge on van Persie, while his partner in defense Balanta was also shown a yellow card for shoving.

And just as they looked to be gaining momentum, Gerrard picked up a knock tripping over Anderson, and had to be substituted for Lucas Leiva, just 5 minutes into the second half.


Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard couldn't continue the game past the 50-minute mark

Yet, United's defense continued to be bombarded. De Gea was called into action time after time, being on hand to deny Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, as well as Mario Balotelli, who had been substituted onto the field to replace the largely ineffective Daniel Sturridge. But Balotelli could do nothing as United's confidence began to rise and they started to dominate the later stages of the game.

A second goal was inevitable, and it came in the form of Rooney, the United captain being fed by a fantastic cross from Chris Smalling, smashing it into the back of the net with his great right foot. Mignolet stood no chance.


Wayne Rooney wheels away in celebration after his close-range effort

It was all downhill from there, as United proceeded to boss the remaining 20 minutes of the game. Things went from bad to worst, as Coutinho was given his marching orders after slicing down Marouane Fellaini with a two-footed tackle.

The last piece action of the game came from Balotelli, who hit the ball from just outside the box only to see it fly into the stands. It was a good effort but the damage had been dealt, and Liverpool will have to win by at least 3 goals at Anfield if they want to have any chance of making it to the Capital One Cup Final.

Player Ratings - Liverpool

Simon Mignolet - 6. Played relatively well, but failed to react quickly to Juan Mata's first-half strike, resulting in United taking the lead.

Nathaniel Clyne - 7. Couldn't do much after United started to get into the game, but was instrumental in the early stages feeding dangerous balls up to the forwards.

Martin Skrtel - 6. An average performance. Wasn't able to handle the lethal duo of Rooney and van Persie well.

Eder Alvarez Balanta - 5. Started the game ahead of Sakho and played the full 90 minutes, but perhaps Sakho would have been a better choice. The youngster, much like Skrtel, couldn't do much in stopping Rooney nor van Persie.

Alberto Moreno - 6. Disappeared for most of the game but was solid when called upon.

Steven Gerrard - 7. The Liverpool captain did well sitting back and babysitting the defense, and was effective in hushing Juan Mata. Substituted in the 50th minute due to injury after a clash with Anderson.

Jordan Henderson - 5. Did not manage to accomplish much and was outmuscled in midfield by Fellaini and Herrera.

Raheem Sterling - 6. Tried his best to cut in from the wing but could not find his way into the box too many times, and in the few times he did, he was denied by de Gea.

Lazar Markovic - 6. Made a few great passes in the first half but fizzled out after that. Looked uninspired and perhaps Adam Lallana would have been a better choice for a game like this one.

Philippe Coutinho - 4. Had a bad game and topped it off by earning an early shower after an unprofessional two-footed tackle on Fellaini.

Daniel Sturridge - 5. A presence that was forgettable throughout his entire time on the pitch. Wasn't able to get in possession of the ball much and was kept quiet by a tough United defense.

Lucas Leiva - 4. Came on for Steven Gerrard but proved to be more of a liability to the team than a help, being at fault for the second conceded goal after failing to stop Chris Smalling from crossing the ball when he could.

Mario Balotelli - 6. Played for only 30 minutes yet still managed to make more of an impression than Sturridge did, but could not get too many of his shots on target.

Player Ratings - Manchester United

David de Gea - 8. Did exceptionally well, and without him the score would have been 2-2 or perhaps even more.

Chris Smalling - 7. Provided the cross for the second goal after outrunning Lucas Leiva. Looked solid in his right-back position.

Phil Jones - 6. Didn't do too much the entire game and was haunted constantly by Liverpool's attackers, but still managed to give an alright performance.

Marcos Rojo - 7. Had a good game, covered up for Jones' mistakes and was largely responsible for Sturridge's ineffectiveness.

Daley Blind - 8. Brilliant performance at left-back. Handled Markovic well and prevented him from getting any balls to his teammates up front.

Ander Herrera - 7. Alright in midfield, Played some great passing football to frustrate Liverpool fans and players alike.

Anderson - 7. Played well and kept Liverpool at bay, but fans will probably remember his only contribution as taking Gerrard out of the game.

Marouane Fellaini - 7. The last of United's three-man midfield, he didn't have a bad game either and fed the forwards with dangerous passes constantly.

Juan Mata - 8. Made some great runs and had a generally fantastic showing.

Wayne Rooney - 8. The captain was once again influential in his side's victory, scoring one goal and assisting the other. Was a nightmare for Liverpool's defense.

Robin van Persie - 7. Did not have too much luck in front of goal but managed to keep up a great rapport with Rooney.

Angel Di Maria - N/A. Played for 10 minutes and didn't have much to do as his team cruised to a 2-0 win.
Love the player ratings on this update Glenn, shame that Slippy Stevie limped of but looked like you came up against a Manchester United side in exceptional form a 2nd leg comeback perhaps?
Really nice ratings mate, kept the readers in the loop :P. Shame to see Coutinho and Balanta underperforming in such a key game
Iconic: A 2nd leg comeback? Maybe :P

Jeremy: Yeah, Sturridge as well. Thanks for the nice comments :)
Can't believe you lost to a team with Anderson in the lineup...
Shame about the result, but really detalied and good update!

Match Report: Capital One Cup Semi Final Leg 2



The second leg of the Capital One Cup Semi Final proved to be a magical night for Liverpool and its supporters as they crushed Manchester United 5-1, progressing to the Final by ending the round over two legs with a 5-3 score.

The game told a similar story to the first leg, but Liverpool managed to convert their chances this time, as the previous game's hero David de Gea had to pick the ball out of his net 5 times.

With 35 shots compared to United's 11, Liverpool again dominated the match with their style of possession football, but it still proved to be one of the most thrilling games of the competition, as both sides managed to hold their own against each other, Liverpool only securing their path to the Final after 3 late goals in extra time.

Rather surprisingly, Louis van Gaal chose to switch formations with only one striker up front and two wingers on either side of the pitch instead of an attacking midfielder. Wayne Rooney started the game on the bench and Robin van Persie was given the captain's armband for the day.

Chris Smalling gave a stellar performance for the first leg but could not even find a place on the bench this game as van Gaal opted for Rafael at right-back. Talented wonderkid Adnan Januzaj also started and so did veteran Michael Carrick, ahead of Ander Herrera and Anderson, a very interesting choice considering the two aforementioned players had done well to silence the usually lively Jordan Henderson.

For Liverpool, Mamadou Sakho and Adam Lallana returned to the side, the latter replacing the suspended Philippe Coutinho. With talisman Steven Gerrard also absent through injury, his position in the starting lineup was taken by Lucas Leiva.



Starting 11: Mignolet; Clyne, Sakho, Skrtel, Moreno; Lucas, Henderson, Sterling; Markovic, Lallana; Balotelli
Used Subs: Balanta (Skrtel, 73 min), Can (Lucas, 77 min), Sturridge (Lallana, 77 min)
Unused Subs: Ward, Flanagan, Manquillo, Lambert



Starting 11: De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Rojo, Shaw; Carrick, Blind, Fellaini; Januzaj, Mata; van Persie
Used Subs: Rooney (Mata, 61 min), Vertonghen (Evans, 76 min), Jones (Rojo, 76 min)
Unused Subs: Lindegaard, Valencia, Di Maria, Herrera

Liverpool showed their intention of not wasting any time, as they scored easily with their first chance in the game. Adam Lallana danced through the United defense and hit a ball out wide to Lazar Markovic, who provided a splendid cross for Mario Balotelli, the Italian forward proceeding to beat David de Gea with a powerful shot at goal.


Mario Balotelli easily converted his side's first attempt at goal

The Reds kept up the momentum, clearly eager to fight back against the 2-0 deficit. Penetrating through United's defense, they finally found a second goal, coming on the back of mistakes from opposing defenders.

Balotelli was in the thick of the action again, receiving another great ball from Markovic, and attempted to bag his second goal. Marcos Rojo stepped in, managing to block the shot with his body, but none of United's defenders got to it faster than Raheem Sterling, who capitalized on the rebound to hit a ferocious effort, a shot that no goalkeeper could have saved.

And in barely 20 minutes, Liverpool had fought back to make it 2-2.


Raheem Sterling celebrating his wonderful goal

They could have so easily made it 3-0 as well. Liverpool, showing off the passing and possession style football they had been developing all season, completely broke through United's defenses. David de Gea was called into action twice to deny Jordan Henderson and the lively Balotelli.

A lifeline came quickly for United as Lucas Leiva brought down Robin van Persie in the penalty box with a clumsy challenge, and the Dutchman put his penalty in easily.


Robin van Persie's strike meant that United now led by a 1-goal margin

Similarly to the first leg, United slowly but surely found their footing, and started to get forward, squaring off against the enthusiastic Liverpool players. A perfect one-two by Januzaj and van Persie almost resulted in a second goal, but Simon Mignolet came to the rescue with his lightning reflexes, going down low to block off van Persie's shot with his legs.

The Belgian stopper was tasked to defend against the resulting corner, and did what was asked of him as Marcos Rojo's header attempt flew straight into his safekeeping hands.

From thereon, the action began to die down as Liverpool pushed for a goal, only to be constantly forced to back down by United's determined defensive wall.

However, the miracle Liverpool fans had been hoping for finally happened in exactly the 90th minute, as an unmarked Alberto Moreno seized onto an opportunity in the form of a smart Emre Can pass. Positioned about 40 yards from United's net, it looked almost impossible to score from such a range.

But Moreno did.


Liverpool's full-back is mobbed by his teammates as his goal kicked his team on into extra time

Just the thing Liverpool needed, a morale booster for them to carry on and finish the game. Moreno's second goal came early enough, right in the 3rd minute of extra time.

It was a goal that left the fans awestruck. Rushing up to meet the free kick of Mario Balotelli, Moreno's pace got him rid of his marker, and the Spaniard took a second to control the ball as it arrived at his feet, before smashing it into the top right hand corner of the net.


Moreno's second goal of the night put Liverpool back in the lead

At their breaking point, United were beginning to get sluggish with their movements, and their players looked uninspired, their spirit clearly shattered into pieces by Moreno's quickfire double. The introduction of regular captain Wayne Rooney could not lift them, and they failed to challenge Liverpool and Mignolet for the next few minutes.

Instead, they dug deeper into their own grave, as United's hero of the game, van Persie, hacked down Henderson with two feet to get himself a red card.

With 1 man down, United were unable to stop the onrushing Liverpool attack. The fluid movement and passing in midfield saw the ball being sprayed out to Raheem Sterling on the left wing, and the teenager, who had been torturing United's defenders for the entire duration of the match, sent a cross up the way of substitute Daniel Sturridge, and a header into goal capped off a wonderful Liverpool move.


Daniel Sturridge sealed the deal for Liverpool as his header brings the score to an aggregate of 5-3

It was an absolutely crushing performance by Liverpool, sending their bitter rivals packing with their fantastic display.

Their last test of the tournament will come against Arsenal, who triumphed over Leicester, in the Capital One Cup Final.


Liverpool players revel in their victory

Player Ratings - Liverpool

Simon Mignolet - 7. Looked more assured in goal this time around and pulled off a great save to deny Robin van Persie early on in the game.

Nathaniel Clyne - 8. One of the most hardworking players on the field, executed his job at right-back perfectly.

Martin Skrtel - 9. Great showing from the experienced center-back and was instrumental in breaking up plenty of United's link-up plays.

Mamadou Sakho - 6. Couldn't do much but didn't have to, stood in the shadow of the brilliant Skrtel for the entire match.

Alberto Moreno - 9. Showed how good his finishing and positioning was with 2 goals to aid his team's cause.

Lucas Leiva - 6. Average at most parts and was the one responsible for giving away the penalty for United, but overall didn't make too many mistakes.

Jordan Henderson - 8. Incredible performance in midfield after having a poor game in the first leg. Also commanded and led his teammates well, showed many signs of a great captain.

Raheem Sterling - 9. Remarkable play from the winger as he frustrated United's defenses constantly. Managed to get on the score sheet with a terrific strike.

Lazar Markovic - 9. Linked up well with fellow attackers Sterling, Lallana and Balotelli. Was one of the most dangerous Liverpool men on the pitch.

Adam Lallana - 7. Failed to do as well as most of his other teammates, but was still solid. Filled in well for the suspended Coutinho.

Mario Balotelli - 9. Extremely involved in all the happenings, scoring once and assisting another. Had a superb 120 minutes.

Eder Alvarez Balanta - 6. Came onto the pitch in the 73rd minute for Sakho, at a time where United were starting to lose their fire. Didn't have much to do in defense.

Emre Can - 7. Came in for Lucas Leiva and showed glimpses of quality, assisting one of Moreno's goals.

Daniel Sturridge - 7. Came on too late to have much of an impact, but scored the last goal of the match with a late 118th minute header.

Player Ratings - Manchester United

David de Gea - 6. Wasn't too bad but didn't live up to expectations after his phenomenal goalkeeping in the first leg, conceding 5 goals.

Rafael - 4. Largely ineffective and was unable to provide any sort of challenge to Sterling, who got plenty of freedom in his runs.

Jonny Evans - 5. Was alright when called upon but stood no chance against Sterling, Balotelli, and Markovic.

Marcos Rojo - 5. Had a similar performance to Evans, gave his best but ultimately his best was not enough.

Luke Shaw - 5. Played terribly, and like Rafael, was unable to stop the opposing wingers, with Markovic being able to dance circles around him.

Michael Carrick - 7. Was probably the best player on the pitch for United. Admirable defensive play, sat back and protected his defenders as best as he could.

Daley Blind - 6. Couldn't take his outstanding form from Old Trafford to Anfield. Had an average game.

Marouane Fellaini - 6. Wasn't able to find much space being the lone central midfielder. Faced off against Henderson in midfield again, but it's clear who had the upper hand this time around.

Adnan Januzaj - 5. Started ahead of Wayne Rooney and failed to deliver. Had a less than average game and improvements are in order if he wants to remain in the first team.

Juan Mata - 6. Wasn't able to touch the ball much nor get into a lot of space, but used it wisely when he had them. Could have definitely played better.

Robin van Persie - 6. Scored the penalty for United but much is left to be desired. Shown a red card and sent off in extra time for a completely unnecessary two-footed challenge on Henderson.

Jan Vertonghen - 6. Introduced freshly off the bench to deal with Liverpool's attack, but couldn't really do much.

Phil Jones - 6. Substituted on along with Vertonghen.

Wayne Rooney - N/A. Came off the bench with the purpose of firing his team to victory, but it backfired on him instead as he picked up an injury just after extra time.
GET REKT MAN U!
Great to see you back writing again Glenn, you were an inspiration for me to start story writing, myself. Some really good updates here too, and a marvellous result against Manchester United!
absolutely brilliant result!!!! Enjoying the updates
Jeremy: Get rekt indeed xD

Pompey: Thank you very much! It's always really flattering to hear something like that, glad you're following :)

Jason: Thanks!
Must have been a energy sapping game (and I'm not just talking about the players! ;) ) Never doubted that you'd push United all the way in the second leg well done it must have been pleasing to see that. League Cup glory perhaps?
A brilliant turn around and two great in-depth updates. Keep it up Glenn!

Liverpool FC: January Transfer Report



It wasn't a very busy month for Liverpool naturally, with all their transfer business having been more or less completed in the summer. However, they still found time to get a deal in, with talented midfielder Lucas Romero managing to wrap up his contract with the Anfield club before the deadline.

Liverpool acquired the youngster's services for a fee in the region of £5 million.

Still barely 21, Romero is an exciting prospect and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will be delighted to have his signature with a number of European clubs having been reportedly interested.

He also has international experience - his first cap for Argentina was won in August, and he can play as either a defensive midfielder or a little more up front as a central midfielder. The wonder kid is expected to break into the first team relatively quickly to compete with the likes of Lucas Leiva and Emre Can for a regular position.

Romero will be leaving Velez, a club he has been at since 2001 as a youth, with 71 appearances in the Primera Division.

Lucas Romero
/


Glenn T's avatar Group Glenn T
7 yearsEdited

January 2015

It was a busy January for Liverpool as they maintained their hold on the top of the league, as well as advancing to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup. The Reds will also contest the Capital One Cup Final against Arsenal in March after beating bitter rivals Manchester United in the Semi Finals.




Premier League

Swansea 1 - 2 Liverpool
Sakho
Sakho


Liverpool 2 - 0 Stoke
Balotelli
Markovic


Leicester 1 - 1 Liverpool
Sturridge


FA Cup Third Round

Liverpool 3 - 1 York
Balotelli
Moreno
Sturridge

FA Cup Fourth Round

Fulham 0 - 4 Liverpool
Henderson
Sterling
Balotelli
Sturridge


Capital One Cup Semi Final Leg 1

Man Utd 2 - 0 Liverpool

Capital One Cup Semi Final Leg 2

Liverpool 5 - 1 Man Utd
Balotelli
Sterling
Moreno
Moreno
Sturridge

Liverpool January Player of the Month



Alberto Moreno has written his own name into both Liverpool and League Cup folklore after his two quickfire goals against Manchester United, dragging his side from the brink of defeat to a 5-1 win in extra time. Aside from his Capital One Cup heroics, he remained consistent throughout the month and continued to show why Jose Enrique has not been getting a game.

Manager's Thoughts

A disappointing draw against Leicester and two wins against Swansea and Stoke that were less than convincing, if I do say so myself. We're still at the top of the league, but Manchester United are closing in and I expect the team to improve next month. We're in the next round of the FA Cup as well and we'll be looking to go as far in that competition as we can. The Capital One Cup Final against Arsenal is also another match to look forward to.

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