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Category Archives: Liverpool
• Bradford will take on Sunderland or Fulham after win over Chelsea
• If Liverpool win replay Crystal Palace await them
Bradford City and Middlesbrough have been rewarded for their eye-catching victories at the Premier League’s top two, with both potentially handed a further opportunity to claim top-flight scalps following the draw for the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Phil Parkinson’s City, the League One side who triumphed so startlingly at Chelsea on Saturday in one of the greatest shocks the competition has ever witnessed, have a tie against either Sunderland or second-tier Fulham at Valley Parade. Boro, challenging for promotion in the Championship and victors at the Premier League champions Manchester City, travel to the holders, Arsenal, on the weekend of 14-15 February.
- Updates from the fourth-round tie at Anfield
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tweet @bglendenning
- Follow the live scores from Britain and Europe here
49 min: Jordan Henderson picks out Lazar Marcovic in the Bolton penalty area with a wonderful diagonal pass. The Liverpool player goes to ground, appearing to have been tripped by Matt Mills, who is already on a yellow card. Kevin Friend waves play on, much to the disgust of Brendan Rodgers.
48 min: Darren Pratley is the centre of attention again, winning a free-kick for his side wide on the left after being bundled over by Adam Lallana.
47 min: Darren Pratley goes on a powerful run into Liverpool territory, but is hunted towards the corner, where he ends up conceding a throw-in. Moments later he is upended by Javier Manquillo, but it is Liverpool who get the free-kick, which prompts bewilderment on the Bolton bench.
Second half: Bolton get the ball rolling, with Lazar Marcovic having come on for Jose Enrique in Liverpool’s side. He slots in at left-wing back, a position with which he is almost certainly unfamiliar.
An email from Phil West: “If Bolton can beat Liverpool somehow, Arsenal fans will pretty much have access to the ENTIRE Chinese buffet of schadenfreude,” he says. I suppose they will, at least until Brighton turn them over tomorrow.
Half-time: Kevin Friend halts proceedings and the sides go in for the break with the score all square. After a bright start in which they pressed Liverpool on to the back foot, Bolton have been under the cosh for the past 25 minutes. They’ve defended well, although their habit of playing a high line and leaving acres of space into which Raheem Sterling can sprint has left them looking vulnerable at times. It’s been a decent game and both managers will be happy enough with their sides performances.
45+1 min: Josh Vela plays a long ball up to Eidur Gudjohnsen on the edge of the penalty area, but Simon Mignolet dashes off his line to get in front of the striker, chest it down and set off up the field. I genuinely don’t know if that is very good goalkeeping or very bad goalkeeping. Anyway, he got away with it.
43 min: Neil Danns sends the ball into the Liverpool penalty area, aiming for Darren Pratley, who concedes a free-kick for a foul on Javier Manquillo.
40 min: Bolton winger Liam Feeney sends a cross into the Liverpool penalty area from the right, but there’s nobody on hand to convert it. Mignolet gathers.
37 min: Adam Lallana decides to have a shot from distance after cutting in from the right, but fires straight at Bogdan. The cameras cut to injured Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge in the stands and then Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush in the Liverpool directors’ box.
33 min: More good play from Liverpool, with Raheem Sterling crossing from the left to tee up Javier Manquillo at the far post. His header is blocked, but the ball breaks to Adam Lallana who tries to force it home but is crowded off the ball. It’s cleared as far as Glen Johnson, who has a pop from distance only to see his effort saved by Adam Bogdan.
32 min: From the edge of the penalty area, Dean Moxey takes advantage of a poor defensive header to absolutely leather the ball on the half-volley and send it fizzing narrowly wide of Mignolet’s right post. Great effort. If anything, he got his foot across the ball a bit too well, to send it curling outside the upright.
30 min: Sterling gets into the space behind Bolton’s high defensive line, sprinting down the inside left flank to collect a long ball, then drifting into the penalty area. Matt Mills shows him inside, doing enough to slow down the striker and take the sting out of his attempt on goal, which is straight at Bogdan.
28 min: Eidur Gudjohnsen goes down under a hefty challenge from Mamadou Sakho as they contest a header. He took the full force of the airborne Frenchman in the small of his back, which is always going to hurt. He’ll live.
26 min: Emre Can puts the ball out of play after it was crossed into the Liverpool penalty area from the right, conceding a throw-in down by the corner flag. Nothing comes of it and Liverpool clear their lines. This has been an entertaining match so far.
24 min: Eidur Gudjohnsen wins a corner for Bolton after getting in behind the Liverpool defence and gambolling along the byeline into a thicket of bodies in red shirts. Dean Moxey takes the corner and floats the ball to the edge of the penalty area. Darren Pratley gets his head to the ball, but sends it high over the bar.
23 min: Philippe Coutinho is limping, holding his thigh. Looks like he’s got a problem with his hamstring, although it doesn’t look like he’s torn it.
22 min: Darren Pratley burst forward from midfield, charging down the left flank with the ball at his feet. With few options open to him, he’s forced to turn and pass the ball backwards, taking all the momentum out of Bolton’s attack.
20 min: Joe Allen attempts to square the ball for Adam Lallana in the Bolton penalty area, but his low drive from the right is blocked and cleared. Liverpool are starting to look dangerous.
19 min: Liverpool win a corner, having reasserted their dominance after a shaky start. Adam Lallana’s delivery is Gerrard-esque and his flat drive from the quadrant fails to clear the first defender.
18 min: Jose Enrique picks out Raheem Sterling with a wonderful curling pass from the left touchline just inside his own half. Sterling had made a darting run into space behind the Bolton back three, but was unable to capitalise.
17 min: Josh Velo drags Joe Allen to the ground with the kind of tackle any rugby league player would be proud of. Yellow card.
15 min: Looking at that Matt Mills challenge on Raheem Sterling, the Bolton captain might conceivably have got a red card. He hauled Raheem Sterling back as the youngster attempted to dart past him after flicking the ball over his head.
14 min: Josh Vela does well to put a stop to a promising looking Liverpool attack involving Coutinho, Sterling and Joe Allen, getting across the penalty area to put the ball out of play off Jose Enrique.
13 min: Bolton skipper Matt Mills picks up the first yellow card of the evening, for a foul on Raheem Sterling.
12 min: The ball drops nicely for Jordan Henderson on the edge of the Bolton penalty area. He tries his luck and gets the ball on target with a nice volley. Adam Bogdan saves well, flinging himself to his right to prevent the ball rolling in to the bottom corner.
11 min: Another corner for Bolton, but nothing comes of it.
8 min: Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling combine down the right for Liverpool, probing for an opening as Javier Manquillo goes to ground in pain after being tugged by Dean Moxey as he made a run into space. Referee Kevin Friend chooses not to stop play and – what do you know? – Manquillo gets back to his feet and carries on as if there’s not a huge amount wrong with him. Allen loses control of the ball and stabs it out of play.
7 min: Liverpool break on a counter attack and Raheem Sterling attempts to play a weighted pass behind the Bolton defence for Adam Lallana to chase. Adam Bogdan spots the danger, rushes off his line and collects the ball.
5 min: Mamadou Sakho concedes a throw-in just inside his own half as Bolton continue to press and harry.
3 min: Bolton continue to dominate in the early stages and win a corner. Gudjohnsen, Heskey and Matt Mills line up in front of Jose Enrique and then peel off in different directions as the ball sails into the penalty area. There’s a bit of a scramble as the ball pinballs around the middle of the penalty area, before Liverpool clear.
2 min: Anfield is sold out this evening, with Bolton having taken their full ticket allocation. Darren Pratley attempts to play Eidur Gudjohnsen in behind the Liverpool defence, but Javier Manquillo intercepts and clears. Bolton have settled well.
1 min: Play is under way at Liverpool, with Bolton polaying into the Kop. They win a free kick and the ball is launched towards Emile Heskey. He’s unable to chest it down properly.
The combined age of Bolton’s front two: 73.
The combined age of Liverpool’s front(ish) two: 42
Not long now: The teams march out on to the pitch, with Liverpool’s players wearing red shirts, shorts and socks. Bolton’s players wear white shirts, black shorts and white socks. The players line up and shake hands, while You’ll Never Walk ALone blares out over the PA. Here’s hoping for a good match.
On BT Sport: Liverpool old boys Steve McManaman and Jason McAteer are discussing Emile Heskey’s pitching up at Bolton. McAteer, who also played for Bolton, reveals that all three of them played in a Liverpool Legends match in Singapore a couple of months ago and says Heskey was caught offside about 25 times.
McAteer: “I don’t know how he got a contract at Bolton.”
So, are we in for another shock? With the top three in the Premier League having gone out of the FA Cup this afternoon and the fourth-placed team having been held by Cambridge United from League Two, Liverpool will need to be very careful this evening. Bolton will certainly fancy their chances of adding Liverpool’s scalp to the pile of big-name hair lying forlornly in the corner.
Wow! Wow! Wow! There may not have been too many upsets in the third round of the Cup, but there’s been carnage this afternoon in the fourth. After Cambridge United did so well to hold Manchester United last night, Championship side Middlesbrough have beaten Manchester City at the Etihad, while League One outfit Bradford have pulled off the remarkable feat of coming from 2-0 down to beat Chelsea 4-2. That’s a sensational comeback from the Bantams, so hats off to them. Meanwhile at White Hart Lane, Leicester City have beaten Tottenham Hotspur. Be afraid, Liverpool. Southampton have also exited the tournament, going out to Crystal Palace.
Bolton striker Emile Heskey will lead the line against his former club in the FA Cup fourth round. The 37-year-old is paired up front with fellow veteran Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Liverpool, with a Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at Chelsea on Tuesday, make four changes, with defender Glen Johnson and midfielder Joe Allen making their first appearances since mid-December after returning from injury. Steven Gerrard is left out completely.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Sakho, Can, Johnson, Henderson, Allen, Jose Enrique, Lallana, Sterling, Coutinho.
The case for an upset: Did you know that Liverpool and Bolton have met on eight occasions in the FA Cup and it’s Bolton who have advanced on all but two occasions? Liverpool have drawn a blank in three of their four FA Cup matches against Bolton at Anfield and have only kept two clean sheets in their past 17 FA Cup matches.
The case against an upset: The FA Cup final could mark Steven Gerrard’s final appearance in a Liverpool shirt and is being played on his birthday. Also, Liverpool have far more money than Bolton, are better at football than Bolton and looked very impressive indeed against Chelsea earlier this week. With the return leg of that Capital One Cup semi-final looming, Gerrard will be rested today, but Brendan Rodgers has said that 17-year-old midfielder his heir apparent, 17-year-old midfielder Jordan Rossiter, will definitely “be involved” this evening.
Bolton Wanderers: Having replaced Dougie Freedman as manager of Bolton Wanderers in October early, Neil Lennon has overseen nine wins, four draws and just three defeats in all competitions, leading the financially hamstrung Trotters out of the drop zone and up to the dizzy heights of 15th in the process. Tonight’s run-out against Liverpool at Anfield will provide Lennon, his players and their supporters with a welcome distraction from the grind of the Championship. ““We’re taking 30 to 40 buses from here to Anfield,” he said. This club has been starved of days like this. We have to get the performance right. There’s no point going there and getting hammered.”
Liverpool: Eighth in the Premier League with 35 points, Liverpool are currently on a nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions and have been looking a lot more stout in defence since their manager Brendan Rodgers introduced a new 3-4-2-1 system against Manchester United last month. ““I felt that somewhere it would come, it was just a case of finding solutions to allow us to do that,” said Rodgers. “The restructuring of the system has allowed the players to come in and work this way. It’s given them comfort defensively and made us a real creative threat with the ball. Now we’re seeing the quality of the new players and how they have settled.”
Welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of this fourth round FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers at Anfield. This evening marks the return of EMile Heskey to Anfield, where he enjoyed so much success as he helped Liverpool to their famous treble of 2000-01. I met the big man earlier this week to discuss his psychic relationship with Michael Owen and other things ahead of today’s match. You can watch the video below, while a longer written version will materialise before your eyes if you click on this link. He’s a top lad, is Emile. No doubt he’ll get a warm reception if he features for the Championship side tonight.
The Bolton Wanderers striker returns to Anfield seeking an FA Cup upset but with fond memories of his partnership with Michael Owen
• More FA Cup news
The framed jerseys on the walls of the basement den in Emile Heskey’s Cheshire home provide a reminder their owner is in the twilight of a fine career. Thirtysomethings all, El Hadji Diouf rubs shoulders with Nicolas Anelka just above Steven Gerrard. Robbie Keane’s hangs over that of Harry Kewell. Michael Owen, the player with whom Heskey forged such a successful strike partnership for club and country, is given dual representation, with shirts from his Liverpool and Newcastle days. On the pool table, a set of turntables call to mind their owner’s famous hand-on-ear disc-spinning DJ goal celebration. “You know what, the funny thing is you’re looking at them but they’re not mine,” he laughs. “I mean, they are mine but I don’t use them. The wife uses them.”
Although he no longer mans the steel wheels, Heskey proved he has still got what it takes to get a crowd on their feet by coming off the bench to score in a victory for Bolton Wanderers against Blackburn Rovers on his Boxing Day debut. It was an unlikely return to English football for the former international, who many presumed had played for his last club in England when he joined A-League side Newcastle Jets on his 2011 release from Aston Villa.
• Rodgers hails ‘outstanding’ display in draw against Chelsea
• ‘There’s no doubt we can go there and get the result we need’
• Capital One Cup semi-final first leg match report: Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
• Paul Wilson: Mourinho’s mentality provides Chelsea platform to progress
Brendan Rodgers said Liverpool’s Capital One Cup semi-final display left him in no doubt they can win the second leg at Chelsea next week, when Daniel Sturridge may make his long-awaited return from injury.
The Liverpool manager was aggrieved at the 1-1 scoreline and the referee Martin Atkinson’s refusal to award his team a penalty when Diego Costa handled. Chelsea’s outstanding goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, also escaped sanction for handling outside his area as he gathered from Liverpool’s goalscorer, Raheem Sterling.
- Capital One Cup semi-final first leg from the 7.45pm GMT kick-off at Anfield
- Dominic Fifield: five flashpoints from a very modern football rivalry
- And email email@example.com or tweet @bglendenning
68 min: Liverpool win a corner, which Steven Gerrard takes. His ball into the penalty area is thumped clear with a header from John Terry. Liverpool substitution: Steven Gerrard off, Adam Lallana on. Gerrard’s done pretty well this evening, although he did give the ball away quite a few times. He was desperately unlucky not to score.
67 min: Coutinho brings a save out of Courtois with a shot.
66 min: Oof! Steven Gerrard rattles the upright with a shot from the edge of the penalty area after being teed up by Philippe Coutinho. That was a fine effort.
64 min: Diego Costa is caught offside again. He’s complaining to the referee for a free-kick he feels he should have got after being elbowed by Martin Skrtel in the passage of play that led to Sterling’s equaliser. Replays suggest he may well have a point.
62 min: A mistimed run results in the linesman hoisting his flag as Diego Costa was put through on goal by Matic to bring a smart save out of Simon Mignolet. A hitherto turgid second half has been electro-shocked into life by that Sterling equaliser.
61 min: Liverpool win a corner, courtesy of Coutinho off Ivanovic. It’s headed clear.
60 min: That was a beauty from Sterling. Mikel was out of position and behind him when he picked up the ball about 45 yards from goal and drifted past Matic, before running straight at Cahill. With the centre-back backing off him, Sterling’s low left footed diagonal shot left Courois with little chance.
57 min: Sterling takes charge, leaving Matic and Mikel in his wake as he sprints into the penalty area, before slipping the ball past Courtois into the bottom right-hand corner. That’s a fine individual goal.
54 min: For all their domination of possession, Liverpool have created very little this evening. There’s a touch of the Arsenal’s about them this evening – and I don’t meran the Arsenal that beat Manchester City on Sunday. They’re being a mite too over-elaborate in the face of Chelsea’s parked bus.
53 min: Liverpool attack down the left, where Branisalv Ivanovic is having a fairly torrid evening. From the edge of the area, Coutinho chips the ball towards Sterling, who is denied a shot at goal from six yards by the Chelsea right-back. Good interception.
51 min: Diego Costa and Jordan Henderson have a little snarl at each other over something and nothing. THere’s not much going on in the way of football action at the moment, so you’ll have to make do with that information until something more interesting happens.
49 min: The camera cuts from Raheem Sterling, who is sporting a natty pair of Wolverine type sideburns, on the pitch, to Daniel Sturridge up in the stands. He has no sideburns to speak of, but is wearing a hood.
48 min: Liverpool apply some pressure on the visitors, attacking down the right.
46 min: Wonderful play from Fabregas. Standing with his back to the Liverpool goal, he dummies a through ball from the centre played upfield by Matic, taking out both central defenders and allowing Costa to run on to it. Mignolet dashes out of his goal to clear the danger. He had to be lively there.
Chelsea get the ball rolling for the second half of this Carling Cup first leg. Liverpool will be playing into the Kop, as they like to do.
Clive Darwell writes: “Surely if they want to remove ambiguity from handball decisions they should re-phrase the law to ‘could the player have been reasonably expected to get their hand/arm out of the way’,” he says. “Otherwise there’ll always be the unknown about whether it was deliberate or not – unknowable without truth serums etc.”
In the Sky Sports Studio: Pundits Jamie Carragher and Gus Poyet are in agreement that Liverpool should not have had a penalty for that incident involving Costa just before half-time. The consensus is that Costa was on the floor, the ball hit his hand and there wasn’t a thing he could do about it.
Point of information: “It was Thorgan Hazard, not his brother Eden, who attended the funeral of Junior Malanda today,” writes Jan Huyse.
Half-time: The players traipse off for their half-time refreshments, with Chelsea leading courtesy of an Eden Hazard penalty. Steven Gerrard accompanies referee Martin Atkinson to the tunnel, presumably complaining about the penalty he thinks Liverpool should have got for Costa’s hand-ball.
I must confess that I don’t know if it should have been a spot-kick or not. The ball definitely rolled against Costa’s hand, as he sat on the turf. Was it deliberate? I don’t think so. Did he move his hand to the ball? I don’t think so. Was his hand in an unnatural position? Considering it’s on the grass and it’s a game of football, you’d have to say yes, surely?
45+2 min: Lucas looks to have played Sterling in on goal with a deft prod of the ball in behind Chelsea’s defence, but Thibaut Courtois is alert enough to dash off his line and just beat the nimble Liverpool forward in the race to the ball.
45+1 min: The ball rolls against the hand of Diego Costa as he sits on his backside, both hands on the deck, in the Chelsea penalty area after a scramble. Liverpool appeal for a penalty, but don’t get one.
45 min: While galloping down the wing chasing a loose ball with Lazer Markovic, Chelsea left-back sticks out an arm to feel for and hold off the winger. He gets booked and Liverpool win a free-kick that might as well be a corner.
44 min: Lucas gets booked for barging into Hazard. He’s not one bit happy about it and replays suggest he might have been harshly dealt with for what looked an innocuous collision.
43 min: Coutinho tries a shot from distance, which is put out for a corner. Ivanovic clears the inswinger with his head.
41 min: “Hazard scores tonight in Liverpool after having attended Junior Malanda’s funeral this morning in Brussels,” writes Denis Roisin. “What a day.” What a day indeed: long and stressful, presumably. You can read about the Belgian U-21 international’s funeral here. May he rest in peace.
39 min: Throw in for Chelsea, deep in Liverpool territory. Ivanovic shapes to take another long one, before chucking it short to Willian. Liverpool clear their lines.
38 min: Steven Gerrard gets booked for a fairly robust challenge on Eden Hazard. He’s not best pleased, but it looked fair enough to me.
35 min: Costa appeals for a foul after being brought to ground by Can while trying to complete a give-and-go with Fabregas. None is forthcoming.
34 min: Moreno and Coutinho exchange passes as they advance into Liverpool territory, but the Brazilian loses possession as he tries to pick out Sterling. Liverpool are attempting to unlock Chelsea’s defence and get Sterling through on goal with some fairly intricate passing moves, that are regularly breaking down on the back of wayward deliveries.
33 min: Jordan Henderson slips. Chelsea’s travelling support strikes up a chorus of Are You Gerrard In Disguise?
31 min: Liverpool look to be in trouble after Chelsea cleared that ball, with Moreno under pressure as Fabregas, Hazard and Mikel bore down on him. Having committed too many men forward, Liverpool scramble back and eventually force Hazard down a blind alley and avoid going two behind.
30 min: Free-kick for Liverpool, between the edge of the penalty area and the touchline. Gerrard sends the ball into the mixer, but Chelsea eventually clear.
29 min: The players from both sides give the bloke in charge of the middle third heat-map plenty to think about, until Emre Can takes control of proceedings, surges forward and attempts to dink a cross in behind the Chelsea defence, where Sterling has made a clever run. Can’s run isn’t so clever and what should have beena scoring chance goes begging.
26 min: After good work from Lucas and Gerrard, Moreno’s cross from the left is put out for a corner. Coutinho sends the ball towards the far post, but he heads it into the ground and wide, when perhaps he might have sent it back across the area. Liverpool seem to have re-found their mojo after suffering that setback earlier.
24 min: Sterling and Coutinho combine down the centre, exchanging passes as they make their way through the Chelsea half. John Obi Mikel steps in to put a stop to their collective gallop.
23 min: From the left wing, halfway inside the Chelsea half, Moreno plays the ball towards Gerrard in the centre. He’s dispossessed by Coutinho, who advances up the pitch.
22 min: Chelsea win a throw-in deep inside the Liverpool half. Ivanovic takes the ball and Delaps it towards the edge of the six-yard box, where Liverpool clear and go off on a counter-attack.
18 min: Replays show there is little question that Martin Atkinson made the right decision – there’s no question that Can fouled Hazard. The challenge was clumsy rather than malicious, but also looked completely unnecessary. That goal’s come against the run of play, which could well knock the stuffing out of Liverpool, who’d been playing very well up to this point.
Hazard coolly rolls the ball into the bottom right-hand corner, while Mignolet dives the other way.
Eden Hazard goes down under an Emre Can challenge on the left-hand side of the Liverpool box. Hazard was too quick for the defender, who made contact and brought him down.
16 min: Gerrard takes the corner, but maddeningly fails to clear the first defender.
15 min: From 35 yards, Gerrard tries his luck with a viciously swerving shot, which Courtois flaps over the bar for a corner.
14 min: More good play from Liverpool. Coutinho attempts to dink a pass into the path of Raheem Sterling in the Chelsea penalty area and Gary Cahill is forced to stick out a leg and make a crucial interception.
13 min: Liverpool’s best moment so far: Jordan Henderson makes an excellent run to ghost into the left-hand side of the Chelsea penalty area past two defenders and pick up a low Sterling cross from the left. He pulls the ball across the penalty area, but there’s nobody on hand to sweep it home.
11 min: John Obi Mikel slides in to win the ball as Raheem Sterling attempts to take possession of it on the halfway line. It’s a 50-50 challenge and Martin Atkinson doesn’t give a free-kick, despite Sterling’s protestations that it was a foul. To be fair to Sterling, he didn’t make a meal of it.
9 min: Excellent tackle from Nemanja Matic, who wins the ball as Liverpool try to break on a counter-attack, with Chelsea high up the field. He really is a fine player.
8 min: Chelsea enjoy a rare spell of possession, but John Obi Mikel gifts it back to them when he dithers on the ball deep inside his own half and allows Gerrard to close him down. The ball breaks for a Chelsea throw-in, deep inside their own half.
6 min: Not a great amount to report so far. Liverpool are having the better of it in the early stages, forcing the tempo, dominating possession and keeping Chelsea on the back foot. Emre Can receives the ball in the right-back position, surveys his options and plays it back to Simon Mignolet, who hoofs clear.
4 min: A loose back-pass leaves Thibaut Courtois in a bit of a dither on the edge of his penalty area, on the left-hand side. Gerrard is quick to pounce, but the Belgian is composed enough to scuttle to one side, dribble around the Liverpool skipper and hoof the ball clear.
3 min: The highlight of the opening minutes? Both sets of fans singing their respective songs about Steven Gerrard. Chelsea’s effort is loyally drowned out by the home fans decidedly more reverential version.
2 min: Liverpool maintain possession early doors, passing the ball around from player to player, seeing what’s what. Coutinho prods the ball forward to Sterling on the edge of the Chelsea penalty area, and he lays it off to Gerrard out wide. Chelsea look happy to sit very deep.
1 min: Following a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone over the Tannoy (other PA systems are available), Liverpool kick off playing with the Kop at their backs. They’ll be kicking towards it in the second half.
Ian Copestake writes: “It seems a long road to the final for Liverpool,” he says. “But a couple of ghost goals would go down wonderfully leaving Mourinho to break into his true self post-match by giving a full-throated rendition to camera of the Gerrard song.”
Weather report: A light flurry of snow at Anfield means they’ll be using a yellow ball at Anfield tonight. The teams are lined up in the tunnel, with John Terry and Steven Gerrard leading them out. Both teams are wearing their usual home kits: Liverpool’s players sport red shirts, red shorts and red socks. Chelsea’s wear blue shirts and shorts, with white socks.
Stevie watch: As you can see from the graphics below, Sky Sports News are expecting Steven Gerrard to line up on the right-hand side of a front three.
Brendan Rodgers speaks: Warning: There’s a bit of paraphrasing in the following paragraph, because my fingers turned into a bunch of bananas as I was trying to type along with him.
“We’re in a different moment to where we were when we played them in the League,” he says. Over the course of the last six or seven weeks we’ve been focussed mentally. It’ll be a tight game and we just need to go into the second leg with a good chance. If we can get a lead. Ideally any team would want that. A draw or a 0-0 would be a good result.
An email from Paul Ewart: “Where Steven Gerrard plays tonight will tell us a lot about Brendan Rodgers,” he muses. “If he plays in an advanced role, he’s a pragmatist: Gerrard is a much better finisher than Fabio Borini. If he breaks up the burgeoning Henderson/Lucas midfield axis by shunting Jordan to wing-back he’s a craven sentimentalist, putting his relationship with the fans and the skipper over the future of the team. Let’s hope it’s the former, eh?”
Jose Mourinho speaks before the game: “We are always confident,” he says. “But we always realise that to play against Liverpool is always difficult and to play at Anfield is always difficult. It’s half of a game, it’s half a semi-final.”
On his decision to play Mikel instead of Oscar, he says: “We play against a good team, we play the first half of a match that we will finish at Stamford Bridge. We know that Liverpool have pace going forward. They have fast people, they have creative people.”
An email from concerned Liverpool fan Lou Roper: “The teams look like Boys v Men, I’m afraid,” he writes. “Any chance Jose would lend us Cech for the match at least?”
So, what do you think of those teams? Brendan Rodgers has made one change from the team that beat Aston Villa at the weekend, with Steven Gerrard coming in to the side and the lesser-spotted Fabio Borini making way.
Jose Mourinho has made two changes from the team that swatted Swansea City aside, with Petr Cech making way for Thibaut Courtois and Oscar benched for John Obi Mikel. In my humble opinion, Chelsea look vastly superior on paper, but Liverpool have home advantage and the match will of course be played on grass, rather than a sheet of A4.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho,Henderson, Gerrard, Lucas, Moreno, Markovic, Coutinho, Sterling.
Subs: Jose Enrique, Lambert, Manquillo, Lallana, Borini, Rossiter, Ward.
Petr Cech speaks: The Chelsea goalkeeper has been stressing the importance he and his team-mates place in the occasionally maligned Capital One Cup while talking to Chelsea’s official website. Indeed, it was this very competition that Jose Mourinho first won in his original stint as manager of the club back in 2005.
“Every trophy is important and I never compare,” he said. “Obviously if you win the Champions League there is a difference but over the course of one particular season you want to win every game, and winning every trophy is the aim. “Every player goes out on the pitch to win, and the fact we won the competition that year meant we wanted to carry that momentum on. It was a great starting point for us as a group because we had a new manager and it was a new group of players with him. Winning something was important, especially in that first year.”
Emre Can speaks: Having scored in defeat against Chelsea when they visited Anfield for a Premier League match in November, the Liverpool midfielder told his club’s official website that he would very much like to bag himself another this evening.
“It was incredible, you can’t describe it,” said the German. “I scored the goal and I think it’s the best feeling as a player you could ever have. To be honest I was thinking about this in the car the other day; I scored the goal against Chelsea and it would be great to repeat that again this time, but the most important thing is to beat them. Hopefully we will do that – we will give everything in this cup tie.”
Good evening everybody. Welcome to our coverage of tonight’s Capital One Cup semi-final between first leg between Liverpool and Chelsea. There’s a place at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur or Sheffield United up for grabs between two teams who’ll be both be confident in the wake of recent performances.
The hosts are unbeaten in eight and have won their last three in all competitions, all away from home, while Chelsea sit pretty on top of the Premier League in the wake of what their manager, José Mourinho, labeled a “perfect performance” against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium last weekend. Having fielded below strength teams for their previous ties to date, both managers are expected to send out the big guns in their attempts to give their fans a Sunday afternoon out at Wembley on the first day of March.
Meet Martin, an unperson, one of the million agency workers facing a lifetime of insecure, low-paid work
Before he urged bosses last week to dish out pay rises, David Cameron should have met Martin. If nothing else, the encounter might have given him pause before that “Come on, chaps” routine. Because Martin could have told him of an entire world of work that the public hardly ever hears about – whose misery runs as deep as any life on those much-publicised zero-hours contracts. His story confirms a truth some frontbench politicians admit in private but none dare acknowledge in public: that something in the jobs market is fundamentally broken.
Martin isn’t his real name and, to prevent any reprisals, I shall obscure a few key details. In a curious way that fits his story. Martin, you see, is an unperson, in a workforce that is breeding unpeople by the hundreds of thousands.
Both Man City and Swansea are missing Wilfried Bony, Charlie Austin needs help at QPR and Jermain Defoe gives Sunderland hope
With Manchester City failing to score at home for the first time since August during the 2-0 defeat by Arsenal, the signing of Wilfried Bony begins to look even more to the point. The frustration for Manuel Pellegrini must be that while Bony is perhaps Mr Right, he isn’t also Mr Right Now. City created enough chances in their best spell just after half-time at the Etihad to have equalised. Undeservedly perhaps: but this is so often what champion teams do. In the end there was a slight but significant lack of the kind of cutting edge that might have defibrillated a sluggish performance. Not only were City weakened by the absence of Yaya Touré, Sergio Agüero was making a first start after injury. It is an anomaly that Agüero has just a single Premier League goal at the Etihad in the last three months: a measure of his struggles with injury and also the intrusion of other competitions (he does have the small matter of a hat-trick against Bayern Munich in that time). But the fact is City do need another striker to share the burden – and also to allow them to play another way.
• Match report: Manchester City 0-2 Arsenal
• Pellegrini: City can’t lose to Chelsea after Arsenal defeat
• Jamie Jackson: five talking points from the Etihad Stadium
• Coquelin’s masterclass: tactical triumph or just lucky?
• Pictures: the best images from Arsenal’s win in Manchester
We round up our favourite pictures from Saturday’s and Sunday’s matches in the English top flight
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