Liverpool start the new year with a draw. Jurgen Klopp’s squad travelled to Sunderland just two days after their hard fought victory against Manchester City.

Jordan Henderson had been injured during the Manchester City game a couple of days back and so was replaced by Emre Can in the midfield, while James Milner took the captain’s armband. We’re also missing Coutinho at the moment and so Daniel Sturridge would start, filling in an important offensive role.

Sunderland would have former Liverpool striker Fabio Borini in their starting lineup.

The first half would start rather well for Liverpool, we attacked again and again until finally we’d win a corner in the 19th minute. Daniel Sturridge attempted to VERY quickly give the ball to one of his teammates in the penalty area. In fact, it was so quick that the referee hadn’t even blown his whistle to signal that the corner should be taken yet. So, after Sturrdige had crossed the ball from the corner flag, the referee asked for it to be retaken. At this point, James Milner swapped positions with Sturridge – Milner crosses over the ball and Sturridge heads the ball backwards, over the goalkeeper and into the net. His headed finish  was definitely better than the previous short corner which came to nothing and had to be retaken anyway. James Milner is a better set peice taker too. Stay in the box, score goals Daniel. That’s what you did, so well done and thank you.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool.

Liverpool should have taken their lead much further than it would go… at least to the half time whistle. But only 6 minutes later, Sunderland would equalise.

Ragnar Klavan would put a quick but not very safe challenge in on Didier Ndong as he raced into the penalty area, towards Simon Mignolet with the ball. It all happened very fast but I do believe Klavan was only trying to take the ball from Ndong, not trying to attack the player in any physical way. However Klavan was judged to have fouled Ndong and a penalty was awarded, Jermaine Defoe would take and score it. Mignolet dived the right way and may have even gotten a touch to the ball but it was a very powerful shot from 12 yards and found it’s way into the net quite fast.

Mignolet almost saved the first penalty

Defoe scored a penalty to equalise in the first half

Liverpool could only drag an equal scoreline into the second half with them. We looked like the dominant team but strangely, the scoreline wasn’t reflecting it as it had done in games we’d scored 4 goals in. The referee particularly was holding us back for much of the game. Yellow cards, fouls  and decisions going against us. At one point, Wijnaldum was attacking and took a shot which struck a defender and the ball went out.of play. He walked over to the corner flag to start taking the corner he was certain Liverpool should have but the referee started telling him that he should give the ball to the goalkeeper for a goal kick. Wijnaldum complained briefly and started explaining that there was a deflection from the defender after he had shot but ultimately, had to just accept that the referee wasn’t giving decisions our way much today.

Liverpool kept struggling, against the referee and against the time we had left to try and take all 3 points from the game. By the 71st minute, a combination of Lallana and Sturridge attacking won Liverpool a corner. The corner would come in and as it came to Mané, he was able to turn and push it past the goalkeeper and into the net. Sunderland 1-2 Liverpool

Liverpool only had to hold on for 20 minutes, plus injury time now. But, just as had happened in the first half, Liverpool couldn’t hold their lead for very long.

12 minutes later, there was an attack by Sunderland and a free kick awarded. Sunderland blasted their free kick with great power towards the Liverpool “wall” and of course when the ball hit Mané on the arm, the referee instantly blew his whistle and signalled for the penalty kick to be taken. I don’t believe there was ever any intention from Mané to deliberately use his arm to block the ball, he was jumping into the air and trying to steady himself while getting significant height in the air. You have to lift your arms to do that. Why don’t you try jumping high into the air yourself? I think you’ll find you’re lifting your arms, aren’t you?
Well, the referee didn’t even listen to Mané complain as he tried to explain there was absolutely no intention to “handball” from him, he just pointed to the spot and Jermaine Defoe would once again step up to take and score the penalty. Simon Mignolet didn’t even dive the right way this time. But, even if he had – the shot was powerful and likely would have made it past the Liverpool goalkeeper once again. Sunderland 2-2 Liverpool. There was very little time left in the game now and Liverpool struggled to find a match winning goal but it would never come. We had 2 points “stolen” from us today.

I really don’t believe Sunderland deserved any points, with the referee helping them a lot in this fixture. This draw was gifted to them, just as both penalties seemed to have been. Merry Christmas and a happy new year, Sunderland. This is your present from referee Anthony Taylor.
TWO penalties? When was the last time Liverpool were awarded two seperate penalties from open play (not a shootout)? I don’t remember, because it was so very long ago. All we can do now is keep moving on and doing our best for the rest of the season. Forgetting this ever happened might just be best. If we end up NOT winning the league though, this might just be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Man of the Match

I was very impressed with Daniel Sturridge‘s efforts on an occasion when he wasn’t just a substitute and he eventually ended up scoring the first goal of the game. We’d been waiting for it for 19 minutes, then he had brought us what we needed. By the end of the game, he had unfortunately limped off but hopefully it’s nothing too serious and we may be able to keep on using our striker as we continue through the season. We appreciate your contributions and would like to see more of them, please.

What’s Next? 

Liverpool’s FA Cup campaign starts in the 3rd round of the tournament soon, where we meet Plymouth Argyle.

Walk on with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

[written by] Stuart Drewery.

I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.

I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.

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