Posts Tagged ‘liverpool’
It’s a sign of the modern game that each and every footballing defeat is treated with hysteria and calls for managers to be sacked.
So it’s no surprise that the pressure on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger intensified following their penalty shoot-out defeat to Bradford in the League Cup last night.
Arsenal are without a trophy since 2005, and with Man United and Man City already dumped out of the competition, the League Cup looked to offer Wenger’s side with a realistic chance of ending that trophy drought.
A 1-1 draw against League Two side Bradford City ended any such hopes, and the calls for Wenger to go have been fierce amongst certain sections.
The fact that the Gunners have been the victims of a huge cup upset at a time when they are struggling to find consistency in the Premier League isn’t going to help the manager’s cause.
But it’s important not to get carried away on the back of a single shock result in a cup competition. It was only the second time in Arsene Wenger’s time at the club years that Arsenal have lost to a team outside the Premier League in a domestic cup competition, and plenty of other top sides have faced the same – or even greater – humiliations over recent seasons.
Liverpool 1-2 Grimsby
Frustrated by an outstanding goalkeeping performance by Grimsby’s Danny Coyne, Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw after 90 minutes. All seemed to be going well when Gary McAllister put Liverpool ahead in extra time, but Grimsby struck back with seven minutes remaining, before former Evertonian Phil Jevons fired a stunning winner from 30 yards which won it for Grimsby in injury time.
Burton Albion 0-0 Man United and Man United 0-0 Exeter City
Man United faced non-league opposition twice in consecutive seasons at the third round stage of the FA Cup. In 2005, the holders of the competition were drawn away to Burton, and were held to a goalless draw despite fielding a side which, although not at full strength, contained plenty of experience. The introduction of Rooney and Ronaldo in the last half hour was presumably to see the job done without the need for a replay, but Burton held on and earned a lucrative trip to Old Trafford.
A year later, the task looked even more daunting for non-league Exeter, with Old Trafford the venue for the initial match. But the outcome was the same as twelve months earlier, and a weakened Man United line-up were once again forced to a replay. Giggs, Ronaldo, Scholes and Rooney all started for Man United in the second fixture, and helped spare any further blushes as United won 2-0.
Southend 1-0 Man United
In a 2006 League Cup tie, Freddy Eastwood was the hero for Southend United as they shocked Man United. Southend were struggling in the Championship at the time of their fourth round win over Alex Ferguson’s men, who would go on to lift the Premier League title. Ten internationals made up the Man United team, with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo amongst them, but neither could prevent Southend from pulling off a famous victory.
Barnsley 1-0 Chelsea
Championship side Barnsley had already dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup at Anfield in the previous round, and may have wished for an easier tie than Chelsea as a reward. But it mattered not as they recorded a famous win at Oakwell in arguably the biggest shock of any in this selection due to the strength of their opponents.
Chelsea, whose squad had cost more than 600 times that of Barnsley, fielded nine of the players who would go on to face Man United in the Champions League final two months later. Yet amongst all of the stars on show, it was the name of Kayode Odejayi that would make headlines the following day, as his goal separated the sides and booked a semi-final place at Wembley.
Chelsea 1-1 Burnley
Ivanovic, Lampard, Ferreira, Deco, Malouda and Drogba were just some of the big names in the Chelsea side as they took on Championship opponents Burnley. Drogba netted for Chelsea in the first half, but an equalising goal for Ade Akinbiyi took the game into extra time.
Frank Lampard was denied a winner due to a raised flag for offside during the additional half hour of play, and focus turned towards the goalkeepers as the tie went to penalties. And it was Burnley’s Brian Jensen who was the eventual hero, saving Jon Obi Mikel’s spot kick to earn his side a 5-4 shoot-out victory. Burnley went on to knock Arsenal out in the next round – Arsene Wenger’s only other loss to a team in a lower division – before losing a semi final to Spurs.
Liverpool 2-2 Northampton Town
It’s hard to forget the images of a rain-soaked Roy Hodgson looking on as his Liverpool team crashed out to a side who were 17th in League Two at the time. Liverpool were fortunate even to be taking part in a penalty shoot-out, having required a late equaliser in extra time just to avoid elimination in the match itself. But David N’Gog followed up his goal with one of the penalty misses and, in front of the Kop, Northampton went on to triumph 4-2.
Man United 1-2 Crystal Palace
Despite all of the successes at Man United during the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson, it’s also United who seem to have been on the end of the most shock results in cup competitions over the last few years, not all of which have been included here – such as a 2-0 home loss to Coventry City in 2007.
Their most recent was only a year ago, when they fell at the same stage as Arsenal have done this season. A weakened team still included the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia, both of whom had been key players in the club’s title success the previous season. Crystal Palace saw a lead in normal time quickly cancelled out, but Glenn Murray’s headed goal in the second period of extra time restored Palace’s advantage and it was enough to earn a semi final with fellow Championship side Cardiff City.
The 20th Premier League campaign saw its final round of games yesterday and a chance to reflect on a mixed bag of pre-season predictions.
Back in August, I picked Man United as title winners – purely based on Man City’s unique ability to shoot themselves in the foot whenever they seem to be making progress.
Ironically, after Man City had done exactly that – losing a comfortable lead in the title race and falling eight points behind Man United in April – it was their Manchester rivals who self-destructed, and in doing so left themselves needing a highly improbable combination of results on the final day in order to take the title.
Yet it was a combination of results which looked set to occur at the moment when the final whistle was blown at the Stadium of Light, where Man United had beaten Sunderland.
Man United were technically the league leaders at that stage, with Man City’s home match against QPR still to finish, and with QPR holding a 2-1 advantage as the game entered a second minute of added on time, there was every likelihood that Man United would stay on top.
Even an equalising goal by Edin Dzeko wasn’t enough to swing the title race back in favour of Man City, but an almost immediate winner in the 94th minute by Sergio Aguero sealed one of the most remarkable title wins, and City’s first since the 1960′s.
Chelsea and Liverpool – my picks for 3rd and 4th place – both had disappointing league campaigns, though each club did at least collect some silverware to show for a more impressive showing in knockout competitions.
Arsenal did qualify for the Champions League after a roller-coaster season of their own. Recovering from a poor start, a surge in form put them in pole position for 3rd place before a late wobble almost led to Arsene Wenger’s side throwing it away.
Tottenham’s form was quite the opposite. After a slipping out of contention for the title shortly after the turn of the year, they went on to drop out of the top four altogether before recovering in recent weeks to finish ahead of Newcastle, who lost three of their final four games.
Spurs still have a week to wait in order to discover whether or not their efforts will be enough to see them qualify for the Champions League. A Chelsea win against Bayern Munich would see them, rather than Spurs, claim one of the four slots allocated for English clubs.
Away from the teams battling for the title or for a top four position, I predicted that Everton would be 7th, which they did. Unfortunately for David Moyes’ team, the Carling Cup was won by a side finishing lower in the table, which prevented a Europa League place from being available to the 7th placed team in the league.
Offering predictions as to who will go down is always a risky exercise before the season has kicked off, but only a late Stoke goal denied me a two-out-of-three success rate! Swansea never looked in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle, and deserve credit for following the likes of Wigan, Stoke and Reading in surviving a first year in the top flight when so many people expect them to go straight back down.
Bolton’s inability to hold on for a win at Stoke yesterday meant that it was they, rather than QPR, who would go down. They joined Blackburn and Wolves in dropping into the Championship next season.
Blackburn’s miserable 18 month spell in the hands of new owners had already seen them end a 12-year run in the top flight, and after Wolves sacked the man who had kept them in the Premier League during the previous two seasons, they went on a 13 game run without a win to ultimately finish 12 points from safety and end the season rooted to the foot of the table.
For the neutral, it’s been a great end to a season which at one point looked on course to have every major position decided long before the campaign ended.
As a Liverpool fan, it’s just been great to end the season!
Four years ago, La Machine brought Liverpool’s streets to a standstill. And this morning marked the first of three days of Liverpool street theatre on an even bigger scale.
Despite grim weather, tens of thousands lined the city streets to witness to awaking of Giant Uncle, as he began a march through the city towards Stanley Park.
Earlier in the day, Little Girl Giant marched from Stanley Park towards the city, and following another route tomorrow for each of the giants they will meet on Sunday beside the city’s famous waterfront.
It’s the kind of event – involving huge numbers of spectators – that Liverpool tends to do brilliantly and if you’re planning on visiting, you won’t go home disappointed.
The stuttering race for the fourth Champions League place continues in the Premier League and although four teams remain in contention, it is Liverpool who are looking most in danger of being left behind.
It’s safe to assume that Spurs will finish at least third because they, along with the two Manchester clubs, have looked a far better team than any of those in the places below them in the table.
And so there is realistically only fourth place for Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and Liverpool to play for.
At present, I would consider Arsenal to be favourites due to the way in which they’ve fought their way back into contention following an awful start to the season. The momentum, albeit one which hasn’t been free of a few stumbles, has seen them move above Chelsea and they currently occupy the all important fourth place in the table.
Almost the opposite is true of Chelsea, and after an encouraging start to the season they have been hugely disappointing. Even the ongoing troubles of Fernando Torres no longer make a great deal of headlines because there are many of his other team-mates at Chelsea who are performing below what would be expected of them.
Chelsea’s form hasn’t caused a great deal of personal surprise, mainly due to the unconvincing manner of some of their early season victories, although it is also said that the mark of a title-winning side is one that can take points from games without performing in top form. Chelsea were certainly doing that in August before losing ground on the leaders which they have never since looked like making up.
Meanwhile, Newcastle continue to surprise. Alan Pardew and his players have done a fine job to be where they are, and even though most wouldn’t have expected the Magpies to sustain their incredible form which they began the season with, Newcastle have consistently took points in the games they are capable of taking points in.
Even though I don’t see them having enough to claim Champions League football, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Newcastle secured Europa League football through a fifth placed finish.
In contrast, Liverpool have found it difficult to take points that their performances may well have deserved. Goals have been less frequent than would be expected from the players they have and the volume of chances that have been created in the vast majority of games.
Progress in both domestic cup competitions and off-pitch controversies have turned attention away from Liverpool’s league form which reads two wins in their last nine games, which included fixtures against all of the bottom four teams in the Premier League. Only one of those games resulted in a win.
The opening day draw at Anfield against Sunderland – a match which should have been wrapped up by half time – has had seven further repetitions and if performances don’t start producing points there remains a possibility that Liverpool could, in the same season, enjoy only their second ever unbeaten home Premier League campaign but endure their worst return of home league wins for 58 years.
It’s all to play for the four sides involved, although it is safe to predict that there’ll be more plenty more drama, twists and turns before everything is decided in May.