Our vice-captain reflects on a difficult 2021.
It was a hard-fought game at St. James Park against Newcastle for Liverpool FC’s last game of 2020. Speaking to the official club website, vice-captain (and former Newcastle old boy) James Milner thought the team put in a better performance than they did over the weekend, but rued our inability to put the game away:
Is that a rare night where you just weren’t clinical enough?
I think that’s pretty spot on really. I think the performance was pretty good, bouncing back from the second half in the last game, which wasn’t particularly good, and then putting in a pretty good performance tonight. We created enough chances, [were] solid at the back, any balls that popped out we were winning. But a mixture of good goalkeeping, defending, a bit of bad luck and maybe not taking our chances well enough was the difference.
If you were looking for areas of improvement from Sunday night – the fact you did create more opportunities here…
For sure, I think it was a big improvement. We’ve come up against two very stubborn teams, given everything to get the points. So at least we performed better, unfortunately it wasn’t good enough for the three points but we’ve got to keep pushing and if we play like that [then] more often than not we’ll get the three points.
When asked about the tumultuous year that was 2020, Milner gave a really reflective answer, taking note of the strange circumstances Liverpool and teams across the league have faced both on and off the pitch:
Given how many problems you’ve faced as a group from the start of the season, is it still a positive that you can go into 2021 top of the table?
I think it’s a positive but it seems to be at this moment in time that nobody wants to take it by the scruff of the neck. We’ve dropped points, everyone seems to be dropping points. United have had a good run and they’re probably the only team who are putting a run together. It’s important that we need to kick on now and try to get a few three-pointers. But the world is in a very strange place at the moment and it’s the same in football. Everybody’s lives are upside down, it’s tough mentally for everybody and it’s the same in football. Hopefully we can get out of this the other side and it’s the same with football – we just need to keep plugging away. It is different, it’s different times and that time where you maybe need the crowd to give you that lift and get it over the line. That might’ve happened on another day. But it’s where we are and we need to keep working hard.
As you can see, we’ve given absolutely everything. The boys are doing well. The amount of minutes some of the lads have played, it’s nice to see a few of the boys getting back – obviously Thiago getting on today and showing his quality. We’ll stick together, we’ll keep plugging away and we just need to get that final piece of the puzzle right. Like I say, I thought it was a good performance tonight, we just needed that final bit to get the goals. If we keep playing like that, hopefully we can go on a run and put some more points on the board.
Quite the return appearance for the Spanish international.
It was quite the dreary night at St. James Park yesterday, where nothing seemed to click for the Reds. Coupled with another Lev Yashin possesses the opposition goalkeeper type situation, it wasn’t to be for Liverpool FC.
Thankfully, it isn’t all pure bleak as we head into 2021. Considering all the injuries the team has battled through, they’re still nicely positioned on top of the table. They just need a spark or two to finish the season strongly. Luckily for us, Thiago Alcantara finally made his return after a two-month layoff following his injury in the Merseyside Derby in October. He looked a little leggy at the end of his 20 or so minutes, but if you thought Liverpool looked more incisive and creative the moment he stepped onto the pitch… you’d be right. Sorta.
On the upside for #LFC, I thought that was some cameo from Thiago Alcantara. Only four Newcastle players made more passes than him all night and he was only on the field 17 minutes. His vision and quality could make a big difference during the second half of the season.
— David Lynch (@dmlynch) December 30, 2020
Passes galore! But wait, there’s more!
Thiago at Newcastle
– 17 minutes played– 29 touches– 21 accurate passes– 6/6 long balls– 5/5 aerial duels– 2 clearances– 1 interception pic.twitter.com/pB2O5nIO1E
— Liverpool FC News (@LivEchoLFC) December 30, 2020
We knew the man could pass a ball but those aerial duels are sure looking impressive. Thiago’s creativity and control of the game could be the key against teams setting up shop deep in their own half – something the team has struggled with in recent weeks. Here’s hoping Thiago’s the spark that can ignite a strong Liverpool run in 2021. I know I am excited to see more from him.
Super Eagles duo of Joe Aribo and Leon Balogun were on parade for Rangers in the 2 – 0 win over St Mirren on Wednesday.
Aribo saw action for the entire minutes match of the match, but Balogun came on as last minute substitute as the Gers finished 2020 on high.
The victory at Simple Digital Arena was Rangers 19th from 21 league games this season and the Steven Gerrard’s also scored 56 goals, kept 16 clean sheets and tasted 0 defeats.
Kemar Roofe’s deflected effort put Rangers in front in the first half, before Alfredo Morelos added the second with cool finish in the second half.
Rangers are sitting comfortably on top of the table with 59 points, 16 points ahead of second placed Celtic, although Steven Gerrard’s side have played two games few.
Both side will meet in Saturday’s Old Firm derby and a win for Rangers could kill off any title challenge from Celtic.
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Rivers United’s Technical Adviser Stanley Eguma is delighted with his side’s start to the 2021 NPFL season.
A 1-0 victory over Rangers at the Adokiye Amesiamaka Stadium set Rivers United on their way to a league season opening victory.
Fortune Omoniwari’s goal in the 29th minute gave the hosts maximum points against the Salisu Yusuf-tutored side.
Speaking to the media after the game, Eguma commended his players and added that the victory is a moral boost for the team.
“It was good for us to win. It really raised our moral and confidence. The league has just started. It wasn’t an easy game. Rangers too came for the three points. We are rivals and they came here and prove that.”
“I commend my players, they have done well, the three points was very important for a start and I thank them,” He told the media.
William Troost-Ekong has been nominated for Watford’s player month award for December following his impressive form.
Ekong will go head to head with captain Troy Deeney, and Kiko Femenía for the award.
The Center half had an impressive run of games for the Hornets this month, featuring in five consecutive matches before picking up a hamstring injury.
While club Captain Deeney also enjoyed productive spell in front of goal, scoring in three successive games against Rotherham United, Birmingham City and Brentford.
Femenía, who won the award in November, also had fantastic December helping Watford win three and drawing twice in their last five outings.
The player with the highest number of votes from the fans will be declared winner.
Voting is currently open on the club’s official website and will close at 3pm on Thursday December 31.
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After Enyimba’s slim victory over Abia Warriors, Coach Fatai Osho says his side must work on their finishing in subsequent matches.
Enyimba got their new domestic campaign off to a flying start with a 1 – 0 win over local rival Abia Warriors at the Enyimba stadium on Tuesday.
The People’s Elephants dominated the game in the opening minutes and should have been at least two goals up in the first half but poor finishing from Sodiq Abubakar and fantastic saves from Abia Warriors goalkeeper Ojo Olorunleke kept the match goalless.
Enyimba finally got their breakthrough in the second half, when new signing Samad Kadiri scored from penalty spot after Abia Warriors defender was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
While speaking to the club’s official website, Osho said the performance was good but admitted his players must work on their finishing.
“It is a good performance from our boys. We started very well like a house on fire, early in the game we could have converted more chances,” said the Coach.
“We could have put the game to bed in the first fifteen minutes but the conversion was not too immersive. That’s something we have to work on to get better.
“The league is just starting so we have to be looking at those lapses we have to correct and those areas we are doing well so we can polish them and start churning out good performances.
“It is quite important we won today. Losing in such fashion (against Al Merrikh), the best thing you can do is come to the party and get results and this is quite inspiring. We can pick one or two things from here.”
Rivers United defeated fellow title challengers Rangers in the opening match of their 2021 NPFL season.
Fortune Omoniwari’s 28th minute goal settled the duel at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium on Wednesday.
The attacker connected perfectly with a pass from Godwin Aguda.
Aguda almost doubled his team’s lead in the 59th minute, but Rangers goalkeeper Nana Bonsu denied his sumptuous volley.
Rangers had a big chance to draw level few minutes later, after Theophilus Afelokhai spilled Kenechukwu Agu’s free kick, Eziekwe however ballooned over from close range with the aid of a deflection.
Rivers United however ended the match with ten men after midfielder Cletus Emotan was sent off after a second booking with 17 minutes left to play.
Rangers searched for the equaliser, but Rivers United held on to their slim advantage until the final whistle.
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