Sunday, 13 April 2014

EPL - Liverpool vs Manchester City, LIVE Commentary:

Title decider? Liverpool host City in an important game for both sides
Big clash: The league leaders could assert themselves and virtually have the title in their hands with a home win - can they?
Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post where I have another LIVE Commentary, this time coming from the EPL where a potential title-decider is being played at Anfield between the league leaders Liverpool and title contenders Manchester City. 

Here are the team line-ups in a pivotal day you feel in the title race:

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Flanagan, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Sterling, Suarez and Sturridge.

Subs: Brad Jones, Toure, Agger, Aspas, Moses, Lucas and Allen. 

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Toure, Fernandinho, Navas, Silva, Nasri and Dzeko.

Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Milner, Kolarov, Negredo, Garcia and Aguero.

Liverpool will be the favourites to win the game in-front of the Kop, and if they start the match quickly and get a goal then who knows?

City are playing catch-up in terms of the games that they still have to play, they would probably take a draw against a side that are desperate for their first league title in over 25 years. 

LIVE Commentary:

13:31 - The atmosphere in the ground is extremely loud, the Kop is going wild waiting for the teams to come out.

13:33 - The players walk out of the tunnel to loud applause from both sets of supporters, before the pre-match handshakes and greetings are completed. 

13:35 - Both sets of teams are standing on the centre circle while the start of the song "You'll Never Walk Alone" begins, to loud singing from the Liverpool supporters. Powerful.

13:36 - The minutes' silence for the Hillsborough tragedy which happened 25 years ago on Tuesday has begun.

Silence: The players and fans all observed the minutes' silence perfectly at Anfield
13:37 - The referee's whistle has blown to end the minutes' silence, to a roar from the home Liverpool fans. 

0: The referee blows his whistle to start the match at Anfield.

2: A good tackle from Kompany to dispossess Suarez near the touchline on the flank, amid boos and whistling from the Liverpool fans who recognise City's best defender - who they were told was not going to play today after he limped out of his team's training yesterday morning. 

Concern: Kompany was admittedly "not 100%" fit after he suffered a knee knock yesterday
He is fit to start though, despite wearing a protective brace on his knee.  

3: Coutinho finds space 25 yards out and drives at the City defence, before slicing a shot well wide of Hart's goal. Liverpool have started the game brightly in-front of the Kop. 

5: The first yellow card of the game goes to Liverpool's talisman Luis Suarez after a late challenge on Demichelis. Arguably harsh, Suarez isn't happy with that.

6: GOAL! Liverpool lead with another quick start! Suarez barges Demichelis out of his way before feeding Sterling who goes one-on-one with Hart, passing the ball into the back of the net as Hart tries to close down the space but does the opposite, leaving an open goal for the young English winger to slot home.

Slot: Sterling breaks the deadlock in the 6th minute, taking advantage of Suarez's pass
Quick-fire: Sterling celebrates his 7th goal of the season to give Liverpool the lead
Quick and effective: The Kop goes wild after Sterling's opener
7: The Anfield crowd goes wild after Sterling's opener, Liverpool have been very effective from the start of matches, giving themselves a quick start.

10: Good link-up play on the flank by Sturridge and Henderson, a nice 1-2 goes to Sturridge who tries to cross the ball into the box, but the danger is cleared away by City full-back Clichy. 

12: Yaya Toure tries to go on a run into the Liverpool area but holds back a Liverpool player and the referee adjudges it to be a foul, much to the confusion and anger of the powerful Ivorian.

14: City have their first effort on goal from Toure, but the midfielder's shot is very high and wide of the goal, flying into the stands.
He's holding his knee after the shot and is limping 
uncomfortably, looks worrying. 

15: CHANCE! Liverpool almost make it 2-0 after an inviting ball whipped into the box by young English winger Raheem Sterling is found by Sturridge who curls the ball past Hart, but the shot goes wide of the post. Close to doubling the lead, would have been a well-worked goal aswell.

16: Cameras show that Spanish defensive-midfielder Javi Garcia IS warming-up on the touchline, looks bad for Toure who is struggling and probably will not be able to continue.

18: Manchester City SUB:
Yaya Toure (injury) OFF
Javi Garcia ON

Toure cannot continue and that's a big blow for the visitors who need an engine like him to power past the vulnerable Liverpool defence and create chances, Garcia replaces him for his 15th substitute appearance of the season. 

Limping off: A big blow for City, as Toure is forced off after an injury while taking a shot 
21: First tackle of the game, and a yellow card for Javi Garcia. He tackles from behind on Henderson near the centre circle and Mark Clattenburg has no choice but to give the Spaniard a booking for a late and harsh challenge. Could have been dangerous. 

24: Liverpool having to do some defending after City push into their area, but then the hosts counter attack with Sterling running past Garcia in midfield before finding Sturridge on his right, Sturridge cuts inside and tries to find the run of Henderson, but gets blocked by Kompany and then Demichelis. Liverpool corner to come. 

25: GREAT SAVE! The Liverpool corner was drilled into the box, and no-one was marking Gerrard who was lurking in the area - Gerrard jumps high to head the ball powerfully towards goal but Joe Hart reacts quickly to parry the ball over the bar and out for another corner. City need to tighten up in defence. 

26: GOAL! Liverpool double their lead! Another corner not well defended by City, this time whipped into the box by Gerrard for defender Martin Skrtel who powerfully heads the ball over Hart's hands into the bottom corner of the net.

Power and pace: Hart could only watch as the ball flew past him into the net

Goalscorer: Skrtel scores his 7th league goal of the season after converting Gerrard's corner
Come here: Gerrard celebrates with Skrtel after his delivery was clinically finished off by the defender
Hart has played well today but he simply could not save that, blink and you'd miss the shot. 

FACT: That was Skrtel's 7th league goal of the season. The most in the league for a centre-back. 

27: Manchester City's players look fatigued and overwhelmed by what they are seeing today. Liverpool have started the game well today but City have not done anything with the ball when going forward and have lost the ball more times than you would expect them to. 

33: PENALTY APPEAL! City are unlucky not to get a penalty after a rash challenge near the touchline in the area by French centre-back Mamadou Sakho who slides across to win the ball from Dzeko driving into the box.

He slices the air instead of winning the ball and catches Dzeko as his legs swing across, lucky for him Dzeko stays on his feet and Mark Clattenburg points for a goal-kick. 

36: City are finally pushing players up the field and pressing Liverpool for the ball, but are not having any clear-cut chances as of yet. 

37: Needless foul to give away by Coutinho, as he slides in late on Dzeko as City win a free-kick just outside the box.
The resulting free-kick is blocked by the Liverpool wall as the hosts clear.

41: Sterling does well to push past the City back wall and hold up play on the flank, before his attempted cross is cleared away by Demichelis.

Coutinho goes on the counter attack and has a strike wide of Hart's goal, closer and better than his first effort but not on target. His team-mates are unhappy that he did not pass to them, as they were in space. 

43: Navas goes on the counter attack and sprints down the flank before finding Silva with a cross into the box, but the fellow Spaniard's resulting effort trickles wide of Mignolet's goal. 

44: GOAL-LINE CLEARANCE! A City header is failed to be dealt with by Mignolet, and full-back Glen Johnson has to clear the danger dramatically off the line. 

45: The fourth official has signalled for 2 minutes of stoppage time to be added on, and City are only starting to realise what this match means in the upcoming future, starting to put pressure on Liverpool which is how they should have started. 

45+1: SAVE! Mignolet does well to deny City from getting a goal back on the stroke of half-time. 

Fernandinho with an off-balance half-volley towards goal inside the box, but Mignolet does well to dive to the effort and parry the ball out towards the corner flag. 

45+2: The referee blows his whistle to end the first-half of action at Anfield, with Liverpool happy to take a 2-0 lead into the break. 

You cannot say that it is not deserved, goals from Sterling and Skrtel have given The Reds a comfortable lead, even though they know that the job is not done yet, after the 10-minute spell of pressure and chances from the visitors, which they should have done from the start of the game. Interesting second-half to come. 

14:41 - The referee blows his whistle to start the second-half, and City kick-off. 

48: Both sides trying to settle and get the best possible advantage over the other..

50: City SUB:
Jesus Navas OFF
James Milner ON

51: Liverpool supporters angry after Suarez goes down under the tackle of Demichelis, referee Mark Clattenburg waves play on and Suarez is rolling around on the floor clutching his ankle.

53: Another foul protest in quick succession, as Milner tries to beat Flanagan near the area for pace before getting tripped, play goes on as Milner was looking for the foul. 

57: GOAL! City reduce the deficit to 1 goal and make the last 30 minutes an interesting finish. Good build-up play by the visitors as Milner weaves past Flanagan and passes across the box to Silva who taps past Mignolet into the net. 2-1. 

60: CHANCE! City have Liverpool right where they want them now... a great run from Silva who runs into the box and crosses a delivery into the area for Dzeko to latch onto, which the Bosnian striker narrowly misses.

62: GOAL! City have equalised! What a turnaround from the visitors, who looked ordinary in the first-half but have started the second-half better and have asked a few questions of the Liverpool defence, which has eventually paid off. 

More midfield magic from Silva who played a 1-2 passing move with Nasri before a low cross was turned into the net by Liverpool full-back Johnson who deflected the ball past Mignolet (who touched the strike) to give Liverpool a headache. 

66: Liverpool SUB:
Daniel Sturridge OFF
Joe Allen ON

Manchester City SUB:
Edin Dzeko OFF

Sergio Aguero ON

67: Aguero comes back from his injury absence which kept him out of City's last 8 league matches for Dzeko who has played well today and was unlucky not to score earlier on. 

Sturridge was electric in the first-half but as Liverpool have not had much of the ball in the second-half so far it seems a smart change to bring on a midfield to solidify the team as they look to hold on and avoid a potential loss while also threatening to score. 

75: CHANCE! City almost complete the comeback after Aguero weaves his way into the Liverpool area before feeding a direct pass across the box towards Silva, who slides on the turf to try and reach the ball ahead of Mignolet, but the chance narrowly passes him by. 

77: Yellow card given to Zabaleta for an earlier foul on Coutinho. 

79: GOAL! Liverpool are back in-front! Coutinho takes advantage of a poor clearance from Kompany inside the area, and hits the strike first time past Hart into the bottom corner of the net! 3-2, with just over 10 minutes plus stoppages to play. 

82: City keep up the pressure with a corner kick, but Liverpool clear the danger. 

85: 5 minutes plus stoppage time to be played, the Liverpool supporters are now in full voice as they try to motivate their team to hold on to what would be an impressive win. 

86: Coutinho's goal was well-struck and accurately taken by the young Brazillian, but you could argue that Liverpool shouldn't have been in the position to rely on him to score an important goal like that for the team - meaning that they should have taken their chances earlier on in the match because they could have been 5-0 up at the break.

89: Liverpool SUB:
Philipe Coutinho OFF
Victor Moses ON

A warm reception from the home faithful who are giving (hopefully) their match-winner a good round of applause. He has played well today and is replaced by loanee winger Moses who is going to be used as fresh legs.

90: The fourth official signals for 5 minutes of stoppage time, much to the annoyance and nervousness of the Liverpool supporters. They know that City could strike at any time, can they hold on? 

90+1: Liverpool happy to keep the ball, Sterling does well to draw a foul near the centre-circle and waste a bit of time. 

90+2: Milner whips a cross into the box for a City player to head on, but Liverpool clear with Sakho and Skrtel making their presence known in their area.

90+3: RED CARD! Liverpool are down to ten men for the final few minutes of the game as referee Clattenburg brandishes out a straight red card for English midfielder Jordan Henderson, who slid in late on Nasri in a 50-50 tackle. 

Late on in the game: Henderson sends the hosts down to ten after a late challenge on Nasri
Was a dangerous tackle and even though he tried to win the ball he did not, and it was unfortunately the right decision for him. He'll miss 3 games now.

90+4: Liverpool take their time, trying to push forward with the ball while wasting time. 

90+5: FULL-TIME! Liverpool hold on for an important victory for them - they move 7 points clear of City at the top of the table ahead of Chelsea who play against Swansea at 4pm today, and City now have to play catch-up if they want to get back into the title race. 

The balance has shifted in the title race now, City are no longer the favourites despite having two games in hand - BUT Liverpool still have to play against Newcastle and Chelsea in the last few weeks of the EPL season.

A dramatic finish to the season is coming up, it will be fascinating to watch. 

One step closer: Liverpool players celebrate after their victory sends a message to their title rivals