Tag Archives: Anfield

Seasonal Stories: Liverpool FC (1996-1997)

A missed opportunity

This was Roy Evans’ third full season as Liverpool FC manager and the pressure was increasing on him to bring back silverware to the Anfield trophy cabinet. Liverpool had an emerging young crop of players coming through along with a few experienced heads and in 1996-1997, they looked like a genuine title contender. They were five points clear going into the New Year.

However, too many dropped points against inferior sides, a series of goalkeeper blunders from David James and questions about the team’s mentality saw the challenge ebb away and on the final day, the Reds were squeezed into fourth place courtesy of goal difference. It definitely felt like a missed opportunity.

Squad: David James, Rob Jones, John Scales (Left in December 1996), Bjorn Tore Kvarme, Jason McAteer, Mark Wright, Phil Babb, Steve Harkness, Neil Ruddock, Stig Inge Bjornebye, Dominic Matteo, Jamie Carragher, Mark Kennedy, Michael Thomas, Jamie Redknapp, John Barnes, Steve McManaman, Patrik Berger, David Thompson, Stan Collymore, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen

Bagging Berger

After finishing third in 1995-1996 behind Manchester United and Newcastle United, Liverpool FC were seen as a creditable contender for Premier League glory. Six whole seasons had now passed since the Reds had been English champions and that was far too long for many of the patient supporters.

Manager Roy Evans didn’t see any need to invest heavily in the summer transfer market but he did swoop for the Czech midfielder Patrik Berger from Borussia Dortmund. Berger had excelled at the 1996 European Championships, helping his country reach the final and Liverpool snapped him up for £3.25 million.

One player who did move on was Ian Rush, who had announced his departure towards the end of the previous campaign. Rush was LFC’s all-time leading goalscorer but had now fallen behind Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore in the pecking order and elected to move on for a fresh challenge at Leeds United.

Setting the pace

Liverpool’s first game of the new season came at The Riverside Stadium against Middlesbrough and it was a thrilling contest. The Reds led three times through goals from Stig Inge Bjornebye, John Barnes and Fowler. However, they had to be content with a 3-3 draw thanks to a spectacular opening day hat-trick from Middlesbrough’s new striker, Fabrizio Ravanelli.

The first victory arrived two days later when two Steve McManaman goals defeated Arsenal 2-0 at Anfield and Liverpool stayed unbeaten for the first eight matches of the Premier League campaign, topping the standings at the end of September.

Berger settled in very quickly, grabbing a brace on his LFC debut in a fine 3-0 away win at Filbert Street against Leicester City before repeating the trick in a fabulous 5-1 victory over Chelsea at Anfield. Fowler was still scoring goals as freely as the previous campaign and even the unlikely source of Phil Babb popped up with the winner at his old stomping ground of Highfield Road.

There were only three defeats in the first half of the campaign. The first came at Old Trafford in mid-October thanks to a David Beckham strike. There was a dismal day at Ewood Park where Liverpool lost 3-0 to bottom-placed Blackburn Rovers and in early December, surprise packages Sheffield Wednesday claimed a 1-0 victory and became the first team to leave Anfield with all three points in the 1996-1997 campaign.

Fowler scored four goals in the return fixture with Middlesbrough and when Barnes rolled back the years with a winning goal from distance in the final Premier League fixture of 1996 away at Southampton, Liverpool went into 1997 holding a useful five-point lead at the top of the table.

29th DECEMBER 1996 TABLE

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 LIVERPOOL FC 21 12 6 3 38 19 +19 42
2 Manchester United 20 10 7 3 42 25 +17 37
3 Arsenal 20 10 7 3 37 20 +17 37
4 Wimbledon 19 11 4 4 33 23 +10 37
5 Newcastle United 20 10 4 6 35 22 +13 34
6 Aston Villa 20 10 4 6 29 19 +10 34

Faltering signs

1997 did start with a 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge to Chelsea who would also stage an extraordinary fightback from 2-0 down to beat Evans’ side 4-2 in the FA Cup fourth round. Liverpool though were still conducting business in the Premier League in a fairly professional manner.

They kept five successive clean sheets in the top-flight after the setback in west London and dismissed Aston Villa and Leeds United very comfortably. The Villa game saw the first Premier League appearance from young defender Jamie Carragher and he scored the opening goal too in the 3-0 triumph.

The first signs of a faltering title bid came towards the end of February against Blackburn Rovers on home soil. Despite dominating possession and creating a host of chances, Liverpool’s finishing let them down with Fowler especially guilty of missing glorious openings. The 0-0 draw was the third stalemate at home in the season for Liverpool and this was an omen of things to come.

A week later, a late Ian Taylor goal sent Liverpool to defeat at Villa Park and gave reigning champions Manchester United a four-point lead at the top of the table. Liverpool dropped further points away at The City Ground, drawing 1-1 when Ian Woan punished a dreadful goalkeeping error from David James.

James was starting to cost Liverpool crucial points, earning himself the unfortunate nickname of ‘Calamity James.’ In early April, he was at fault for both goals to allow 20th place Coventry City to come from behind to pull off a stunning 2-1 victory at Anfield. The title dream was ebbing away and the supporters knew it.

A catastrophe against Manchester United

In that period, Liverpool did beat both Newcastle United and Arsenal. In the latter game, Fowler won a UEFA Fair Play Award for attempting to overturn Gerald Ashby’s decision to give the Reds a penalty after Fowler went down without any contact from Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman.

There were serious question marks about Liverpool’s hunger and mentality. Some of the young players – particularly Fowler, McManaman, Jamie Redknapp and Jason McAteer were criticised for partying too much and not focusing completely on football. Another unfortunate tag was dished out with this group being referred too as ‘The Spice Boys.’

The final nail in Liverpool’s title coffin came when league leaders Manchester United arrived at Anfield on 19th April. This was the Reds last chance and they put in a deeply disappointing display. They conceded two sloppy set-piece goals to Gary Pallister and James had another catastrophe, failing to catch a cross and allowing Andy Cole to score one of the simplest goals of his career. The Red Devils won 3-1 and it was all over.

Title hopes officially ended on 6th May when Liverpool lost 2-1 to Wimbledon which ended their mathematical hopes of catching Manchester United. The only plus point of a thoroughly frustrating evening at Selhurst Park was the emergence of young prodigy Michael Owen. Owen came off the bench and scored with virtually his first chance in the senior side. Having impressed greatly at youth level, this was Owen’s big moment and a goalscoring star was well and truly born.

Second place was still up for grabs on the final day but Liverpool could only draw 1-1 at Sheffield Wednesday. Rivals Newcastle United and Arsenal both won which saw them overtake Liverpool on the final day on goal difference. Newcastle grabbed second spot which meant they would compete in the following season’s UEFA Champions League.

Despite having been considered as the best team for much of the season, Liverpool FC had nothing to show for their efforts. Fourth place and two cup semi-finals was seen as a major underachievement for this emerging team and they wouldn’t get a better opportunity to end the league famine for the remainder of the 1990s.

FINAL 1996-1997 TABLE – FIRST TO SIXTH

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 21 12 5 76 44 +32 75
2 Newcastle United 38 19 11 8 73 40 +33 68
3 Arsenal 38 19 11 8 62 32 +30 68
4 LIVERPOOL FC 38 19 11 8 62 37 +25 68
5 Aston Villa 38 17 10 11 47 34 +13 61
6 Chelsea 38 16 11 11 58 55 +3 59
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Shock Results: Liverpool FC 2-3 Swansea City (January 2017)

Goalscorers: Fernando Llorente 48, 52, Roberto Firmino 55, 69, Gylfi Sigurdsson 74

Teams:

Liverpool FC: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Ragnar Klavan, Dejan Lovren, James Milner, Emre Can (Divock Origi 70), Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldum (Joel Matip 90), Philippe Coutinho (Daniel Sturridge 57), Roberto Firmino

Swansea City: Lukasz Fabianski, Federico Fernandez, Alfie Mawson, Kyle Naughton, Martin Olsson (Angel Rangel 79), Tom Carroll, Jack Cork, Leroy Fer (Jay Fulton 90), Wayne Routledge, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fernando Llorente (Borja Baston 85)

Referee: Kevin Friend, Attendance: 53,169

In January 2017, Swansea City were already on their third manager of the season. Having sacked Francesco Guidolin in October and Bob Bradley two months later, it was now down to the former Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain assistant Paul Clement to try and save them from relegation.

Clement had taken over a few weeks earlier and his new side were bottom of the Premier League table when they made the trip to face Liverpool FC. They had never won in any of their previous 15 league visits to Anfield. However, they were about to pull off a historic result which destroyed any hopes Jurgen Klopp’s side had of catching runaway league leaders Chelsea.

Having conceded more goals than anyone else in the top-flight upto this point, Clement’s tactics were spot-on in the first half by allowing Liverpool to dominate possession but ensure they didn’t have any space to utilise it. The Reds, missing Sadio Mane who was on African Cup of Nations duty with Senegal looked blunt without him and were restricted to half-chances in the first half which ended goalless and there wasn’t much to write home about.

All that changed two minutes into the second half when Swansea took a shock lead. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s deep corner caused chaos in the penalty area. Centre-back Federico Fernandez kept the ball alive and Fernando Llorente reacted quickest to the loose ball for a simple tap-in. It was his seventh Premier League goal of the season. Four minutes later, the Spaniard and his side had amazingly doubled their lead.

Making his second debut for the club after signing permanently earlier in the week from Tottenham Hotspur, Tom Carroll delivered a devilish ball into the penalty area from the left-hand side. Llorente was much stronger than Dejan Lovren in the air and his well-placed downwards header went past Simon Mignolet. These two goals were Llorente’s first-ever away goals for the club since he’d joined in the summer from Sevilla.

Liverpool needed a swift response and Roberto Firmino provided it in the 55th minute. James Milner provided a great cross and infront of The Kop, Firmino was there to pounce. With 22 minutes to go, it looked like the Brazilian had got the Reds out of jail by providing the equaliser. Georginio Wijnaldum fed the ball into the danger area and Firmino produced another brilliant finish with skill and panache to match Llorente’s feat in scoring two in the match. Klopp’s side were now red-hot favourites to get the fifth goal but Swansea wouldn’t lie down and with 16 minutes to go, they went back infront.

Llorente and Carroll played their part and when Ragnar Klavan got in an interception; his block only fell into the path of Sigurdsson who scored his first goal in eight matches with a calm, deft strike. Despite enjoying nearly 75% possession, Liverpool’s 17-match unbeaten Premier League run at Anfield had come to an end and further setbacks with exits in both domestic cup competitions made it a miserable January 2017 for Jurgen Klopp.

Swansea avoided relegation thanks to the goals of Llorente, the assists of Sigurdsson and the determination of their side to pull off unlikely results like this victory on Merseyside.

Great Goals: Steven Gerrard – LIVERPOOL FC vs. Manchester United (March 2001)

The 2000-2001 season was Steven Gerrard’s second full season in the Liverpool FC first-team and it was a breakthrough campaign for the midfielder who would go on to be one the club’s greatest-ever players. This goal was a breakthrough moment too for his career against bitter North West rivals, Manchester United.

In the 15th minute of this encounter at Anfield, Fabien Barthez’s slip which led to a scruffy clearance began a chain of events that ended with the ball in the top corner of his net. Robbie Fowler played his part, laying the ball off into the path of Gerrard. He drove forward and as two United defenders started to advance on him, he unleashed a spectacular shot which was unstoppable. His eighth goal of the season was one of the best of the entire campaign.

Liverpool won the game 2-0 as they recorded their first-ever Premier League double against the reigning champions and Gerrard was voted PFA Young Player of the Year at the season’s end.

Iconic Moments: Robbie returns to Anfield (January 2006)

At half-time of a Premier League match at home to Sunderland in November 2001, Robbie Fowler was substituted at half-time by Phil Thompson. Two days later and much to the dissatisfaction of Liverpool supporters, Fowler was sold to Premier League rivals Leeds United for £11 million.

Injuries started to take their toll on Fowler who never looked the same player at Elland Road and after an indifferent period at Manchester City from 2003 to 2006, it looked like his career would fade into obscurity. Then, he got the chance of a lifetime to come home to his boyhood club.

Fowler remained a supporter during his years away from the Liverpool playing staff and he was in Istanbul in 2005 – not as a VIP, or a TV pundit but as a fan cheering the Reds on during their incredible comeback to defeat AC Milan and lift the UEFA Champions League.

In January 2006, Rafa Benitez believed Fowler could offer him more competition in the striking berths and along with corporation from Manchester City, one of the more surprising transfer moves of recent times went through. ‘God’ was coming home.

Fowler scored five times in the run-in and earned himself a new contract in the process before leaving for the second time in May 2007, this time receiving a huge round of applause when he departed against Charlton Athletic – something fans had been deprived of six years earlier.

In total, Fowler scored 128 league goals for Liverpool FC in 266 appearances and remains one of the club’s finest products to have come through their academy.

The Clubs: Liverpool FC

All statistics correct upto 10th January 2019

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
1021 516 258 247 1734 1034 +700 1806 27

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Jamie Carragher 508
Steven Gerrard 504
Sami Hyypia 318
Pepe Reina 285
Robbie Fowler 266
Lucas 247
Martin Skrtel 242
Steve McManaman 240
John Arne Riise 234
Jamie Redknapp 231

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Robbie Fowler 128
Steven Gerrard 121
Michael Owen 118
Luis Suarez 69
Fernando Torres 65
Dirk Kuyt 51
Daniel Sturridge 51
Ian Rush 45
Mohamed Salah 45
Roberto Firmino 44

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Liverpool FC 7-1 Southampton 16th January 1999 1998-1999
Liverpool FC 6-0 Manchester City 28th October 1995 1995-1996
Ipswich Town 0-6 Liverpool FC 9th February 2002 2001-2002
West Bromwich Albion 0-6 Liverpool FC 26th April 2003 2002-2003
Liverpool FC 6-0 Derby County 1st September 2007 2007-2008
Newcastle United 0-6 Liverpool FC 27th April 2013 2012-2013
Aston Villa 0-6 Liverpool FC 14th February 2016 2015-2016
Crystal Palace 1-6 Liverpool FC 20th August 1994 1994-1995
Liverpool FC 6-1 Hull City 26th September 2009 2009-2010
Liverpool FC 6-1 Watford 6th November 2016 2016-2017

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Stoke City 6-1 Liverpool FC 24th May 2015 2014-2015
Manchester City 5-0 Liverpool FC 9th September 2017 2017-2018
Coventry City 5-1 Liverpool FC 19th December 1992 1992-1993
Chelsea 4-0 Liverpool FC 16th December 2001 2001-2002
Manchester United 4-0 Liverpool FC 5th April 2003 2002-2003
Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Liverpool FC 18th September 2011 2011-2012
Blackburn Rovers 4-1 Liverpool FC 3rd April 1993 1992-1993
Chelsea 4-1 Liverpool FC 25th April 1998 1997-1998
Liverpool FC 1-4 Chelsea 2nd October 2005 2005-2006
Arsenal 4-1 Liverpool FC 4th April 2015 2014-2015

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Graeme Souness 2 28th January 1994
Roy Evans 6 11th November 1998
Gerard Houllier 6 30th June 2004
Rafa Benitez 6 3rd June 2010
Roy Hodgson 1 7th January 2011
Kenny Dalglish 2 16th May 2012
Brendan Rodgers 4 4th October 2015
Jurgen Klopp 4  

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Liverpool FC 4-1 Cardiff City 27th October 2018 53,373 2018-2019
Liverpool FC 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion 25th August 2018 53,294 2018-2019
Liverpool FC 2-2 AFC Bournemouth 5th April 2017 53,292 2016-2017
Liverpool FC 2-0 Newcastle United 3rd March 2018 53,287 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 5-0 Watford 17th March 2018 53,287 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 4-3 Manchester City 14th January 2018 53,285 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 3-0 Huddersfield Town 28th October 2017 53,268 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 3-0 Southampton 18th November 2017 53,256 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 4-1 West Ham United 24th February 2018 53,256 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 0-0 Stoke City 28th April 2018 53,255 2017-2018

 

Intro

Liverpool FC is one of just six teams to have featured in every single Premier League season but their wait for a league championship goes on. It is now 29 years since the top-flight title arrived in the Anfield trophy cabinet and that was before the Premier League era. The Reds have experienced some near-misses under Roy Evans (1997), Gerard Houllier (2002), Rafa Benitez (2009) and Brendan Rodgers (2014). However, Jurgen Klopp’s current set of players are in a fantastic position to end the league famine – remaining unbeaten through the first half of the current campaign.

 

1992-1993

Manager Graeme Souness continued to reshape an ageing squad, signing goalkeeper David James and forward Paul Stewart but the Reds showed no consistency throughout the inaugural Premier League season. They were in the bottom half for much of the campaign and only a run of seven wins in their last 12 matches took the Reds into a fortunate finish of sixth position in the table. His absence from the 6-2 final day win over Tottenham Hotspur because of being on a ‘scouting mission’ increased speculation his tenure at Anfield was coming to an end.

 

1993-1994

Liverpool FC started 1993-1994 with three successive victories and things seemed to be looking up but the inconsistency remained and they were a lowly 13th in the table on Christmas Day. There was a rousing comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Manchester United in early January but weeks later, Souness departed after a humiliating FA Cup exit at home to Bristol City. Roy Evans was promoted into the managerial hotseat and guided the club to eighth position in the final table, also allowing hotshot Robbie Fowler to make his mark in the first-team.

 

1994-1995

Liverpool FC became winners once again in Evans’ first full season as manager with two Steve McManaman goals guiding them to victory in the League Cup final over Bolton Wanderers. In the Premier League, there were also radical improvements with a fourth place finish despite failing to beat Everton in either Merseyside Derby, plus a 1-0 home loss to bottom club Ipswich Town.

 

1995-1996

Having paid a national record £8.5 million for Nottingham Forest striker Stan Collymore in the close season, Liverpool FC were many people’s favourites for the league title in 1995-1996 but they fell short, finishing third in the table behind Manchester United and Newcastle United. For the second year in a row, Robbie Fowler won the PFA Young Player of the Year award and finished runner-up to Alan Shearer in the race for the Golden Boot. November was the month where Liverpool’s challenge for the title ultimately died, collecting just one point from 12 available.

 

1996-1997

1996-1997 was a missed opportunity for Liverpool FC who topped the table going into New Years’ Day, holding a five-point advantage. However, they dropped silly points at Anfield, including a shock 2-1 home loss to bottom-placed Coventry City in early April. There was also David James, who made a series of errors which earned him the nickname ‘Calamity James,’ and the ‘Spice Boys’ culture with the media believing some of the players preferring partying and socialising to winning football matches. The Reds finished fourth, missing out on a second-place finish on goal difference and pressure started to grow on Evans’ management.

 

1997-1998

The emergence of 18-year-old Michael Owen was the highlight in an unspectacular season for the club. Owen won the PFA Young Player of the Year award and was the joint-winner of the Golden Boot alongside Dion Dublin and Chris Sutton. Owen’s goals came at a good time as Robbie Fowler’s progress was stalled by a serious knee injury in the closing stages of February’s 1-1 Merseyside Derby draw. Liverpool FC finished third, a distant 13 points behind champions Arsenal.

 

1998-1999

The Liverpool FC board decided to act on previous shortcomings by bringing in Gerard Houllier to work alongside Roy Evans as joint-managers. It was a partnership that never looked like working out. Despite amassing 10 points from their first four matches, including a quick-fire Owen hat-trick at St James’ Park, the writing was on the wall from the moment Liverpool drew 3-3 at home with newly-promoted Charlton Athletic. After a League Cup defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur, Evans resigned in mid-November with the club only 11th in the Premier League table.

Houllier was left in sole charge but fortunes continued to flirt from a 7-1 thumping of Southampton to a 1-0 loss at The Valley to Charlton. Liverpool finished a poor seventh in the table but Owen finished joint-holder of the Golden Boot for the second season running. However, Steve McManaman would leave at the end of the season for Real Madrid via the Bosman ruling.

 

1999-2000

Houllier made seven close-season signings and with former defender Phil Thompson installed as assistant manager, Liverpool started to recover and become a leading Premier League force again. There were still bumps in the road with home defeats to Watford and Everton, plus an FA Cup exit to First Division Blackburn Rovers. However, Liverpool challenged for UEFA Champions League qualification all season. A five-game winning run and the £11 million signing of Emile Heskey took Liverpool into second spot before a bad end to the season with no wins and no goals from their last five outings cost the Reds a top three finish. Fourth place was the final outcome.

 

2000-2001

Nick Barmby made the move across Stanley Park, whilst Gary McAllister and Christian Ziege were also added to an increased strength in-depth in the squad. Liverpool FC enjoyed a trophy-laden season with their own unique treble of cups, winning the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup. In the Premier League, a 4-0 final day win over Charlton Athletic at The Valley secured third place and a spot in the following season’s UEFA Champions League. Steven Gerrard’s development continued as the youngster won PFA Young Player of the Year honours and there was also a memorable league double over bitter rivals Manchester United for the first time in the Premier League era.

 

2001-2002

In mid-October at half-time of a Premier League match with Leeds United, Gerard Houllier was rushed to hospital complaining of chest pains. He required emergency heart surgery and was out of action for five months. Phil Thompson stepped into the breach and did remarkably well to keep the Reds fighting on two fronts, despite a run of one win in nine Premier League matches during the winter months.

Michael Owen’s stock continued to rise as he won the Ballon d’Or and there was another league double over Manchester United with Danny Murphy scoring the winner at Old Trafford for the second season running.

Houllier returned to the dugout in mid-March and spearheaded Liverpool FC to their best-ever Premier League finish of second spot and 80 points achieved, only finishing behind Arsenal. Second spot was achieved on the final day by a 5-0 home victory over Ipswich with John Arne Riise, one of the signings of the season, scoring twice.

 

2002-2003

Liverpool FC’s domestic service was faultless in the early months with the club stringing together a 12-match unbeaten run. However, a late 1-0 reverse to Middlesbrough in November started a calamitous run of 11 games without a victory that dropped the Reds out of the title race. By early January, they sat seventh and in severe danger of missing out on a top-four finish.

Houllier’s signings of Salif Diao, Bruno Cheyrou and El-Hadji Diouf all turned out to be expensive flops but a second League Cup triumph in three years softened the blow of an average league season which ended with defeat at Chelsea, a fifth place finish and only UEFA Cup football at Anfield for the following campaign.

 

2003-2004

Houllier attempted to revive his fortunes with the arrival of Harry Kewell from Leeds United whilst Djibril Cisse was signed for the following campaign from Auxerre. Injuries plagued Liverpool’s campaign with Jamie Carragher, Milan Baros, Steve Finnan and Owen all missing significant portions of the season but Liverpool’s league form was poor. 1-0 victories away at Chelsea and Manchester United were the only major highlights. Liverpool scraped a fourth place finish but eight days after the season concluded, Houllier’s tenure was brought to an end by the board with the club finishing a whopping 30 points behind unbeaten champions Arsenal in the final standings.

 

2004-2005

After winning two La Liga titles in three seasons and the UEFA Cup, Rafa Benitez arrived in June to replace Houllier. He managed to persuade his high-profile skipper Steven Gerrard to stay on but Michael Owen departed in an £8 million move to Real Madrid. Once again, injuries marred Liverpool’s domestic challenge and they finished fifth and even further behind the league champions – 37 points this time off Chelsea’s searing pace.

However, LFC’s campaign was all about their UEFA Champions League run. Gerrard’s dramatic strike against Olympiacos saw the club progress into the knockout rounds where the champions of Italy Juventus and new English champions Chelsea were both dumped out. In the final in Istanbul, Liverpool fell 3-0 down to AC Milan but stormed back to 3-3 in a miraculous recovery, led by the inspirational Gerrard. Jerzy Dudek’s heroics in the penalty shootout saw Liverpool record a historic fifth European Cup triumph, keeping the famous trophy in the Anfield trophy cabinet for good.

 

2005-2006

As Champions of Europe, Liverpool FC were now firmly back among the elite of European football. 2005-2006 saw more trophy glory for Rafa Benitez and Gerrard once again led by example, scoring twice in a thrilling FA Cup final against West Ham United which saw the Merseysiders triumph on penalties again. There was also progress in the Premier League. Despite a stuttering start, Liverpool produced two lengthy winning sequences during the league campaign on their way to third place and a new points-high tally of 82 points. Gerrard won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Robbie Fowler was re-signed, five years after leaving for Leeds United.

 

2006-2007

Liverpool FC’s failure to win away from Anfield or score in open play on their travels until early December scuppered any chances of a title tilt. The Reds finished third again but further off the pace set by Manchester United and Chelsea. Peter Crouch scored a perfect hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Arsenal whilst Robbie Fowler said an emotional farewell to his boyhood club in his second spell. Once again, the UEFA Champions League dominated Liverpool’s season with another final appearance against AC Milan – although this time, it ended in defeat in Athens.

 

2007-2008

Fernando Torres was acquired for a club-record transfer fee as Liverpool FC looked to bridge the gap between them and the regular championship contenders. Torres did score 24 times in the Premier League and the Reds stayed unbeaten until mid-December. There were just four league defeats but too many draws proved costly for LFC and Benitez as they finished fourth – 11 points clear of fifth place Everton but also, 11 points behind the champions Manchester United.

 

2008-2009

Liverpool FC launched their closest title tilt, finishing just four points shy of Manchester United, having lost just two matches and scored more goals than any other side in the division. Steven Gerrard put in another immaculate individual campaign which saw him win the Football Writers’ Award and the Reds stayed unbeaten all throughout the season at Anfield. Unfortunately, seven home draws against the likes of Stoke City, Fulham and West Ham United would have significant damage and dropping these points would be a decisive factor. The club also said a fond farewell to Sami Hyypia. The Finn left at the end of the season for Bayer 04 Leverkusen after 10 years, 318 appearances and plenty of memorable memories.

 

2009-2010

Selling Xabi Alonso in pre-season to Real Madrid and replacing him with injury-plagued Alberto Aquilani was the beginning of the end for Rafa Benitez. Liverpool FC had a miserable season which included a group stage exit from the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup demise at the hands of Reading at Anfield. It wasn’t much better in the league. The Reds finished a distant seventh and a deteriorating relationship with American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett sealed Benitez’s fate. The Spaniard left the club in June whilst Hicks and Gillett put Liverpool FC up for sale.

 

2010-2011

LMA Manager of the Year Roy Hodgson succeeded Rafa Benitez as Liverpool FC manager but struggled badly to get the best out of his players. Liverpool’s decline reached drastic proportions in early October when they lost at home to newly-promoted Blackpool, leaving them in the bottom three. Meanwhile, the club was sold to Fenway Sports Group, who persisted with Hodgson until early January. He left after a 3-1 loss to Blackburn Rovers left Liverpool 12th in the Premier League and only four points above the relegation zone.

Playing legend and former manager Kenny Dalglish returned in a caretaker capacity until the end of the season and steered the club to a sixth place finish. Liverpool also bought Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in the January transfer window, whilst selling star striker Fernando Torres to Chelsea for a British transfer record fee of £50 million.

 

2011-2012

Dalglish was given a three-year contract to stay on as manager and signed the likes of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson in pre-season. Liverpool FC had a quiet season in the Premier League, finishing only eighth in the table and below Merseyside rivals Everton for only the second time in 20 years. The main incident was Luis Suarez being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra during a Premier League match against Manchester United. Suarez was given an eight-match ban. Although Liverpool won the League Cup final on penalties and reached the FA Cup final, Dalglish was sacked four days after the season ended due to their poor final league position.

 

2012-2013

It was Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers who was selected as Dalglish’s successor and Rodgers added Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge to the squad in the January transfer window, forming the formidable ‘SAS’ partnership with Luis Suarez. Suarez finished as runner-up to Robin van Persie in the race for the Golden Boot but again, committed a serious act on-the-pitch with a biting incident on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic which landed the Uruguayan with a 10-match ban. Liverpool FC finished seventh in the table and the club’s highest-ever Premier League appearance maker, Jamie Carragher retired at the end of the season to start a television punditry career with Sky Sports.

 

2013-2014

Liverpool FC scored over 100 Premier League goals and produced some memorable moments in a titanic Premier League title scrap with Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. The Reds thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 at White Hart Lane, commandingly defeated outgoing champions Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford and scored an extraordinary four goals in the first 20 minutes of a 5-1 rout against Arsenal.

An emotional 3-2 victory over Manchester City in mid-April put Liverpool in control of their fate and it looked like the league championship might be heading back to Anfield. Unfortunately, Steven Gerrard’s crucial slip against Chelsea allowed Demba Ba in to score the first goal of the Blues’ 2-0 victory at Anfield two weeks after the City victory. A late collapse at Selhurst Park a week later effectively handed Manchester City the title which they secured on the last day of the season.

A rejuvenated Luis Suarez won the Golden Boot with 31 goals and swept the board in the main individual awards. He would leave that summer in a £75 million move to Barcelona after another biting incident whilst playing at the World Cup finals for Uruguay.

 

2014-2015

After the runners-up finish in 2013-2014, hopes were high for a Liverpool FC title challenge in 2014-2015 but they simply failed to materialise. A poor start with seven losses recorded by mid-November plus the failed gamble with signing Mario Balotelli meant the Reds played no significant part in the title race.

A calamitous 6-1 final day defeat away at Stoke City left Liverpool in a distant sixth place whilst legendary skipper Steven Gerrard decided to leave at the end of the season and finish his playing career with LA Galaxy in the United States. Gerrard made 504 Premier League appearances across 17 years, scoring 121 goals but the main Premier League prize would ultimately elude him.

 

2015-2016

Liverpool’s board decided to stick with Brendan Rodgers but just three wins from the club’s first eight matches left the Reds in mid-table in early October. Hours after a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park with Everton, Rodgers was sacked and replaced by Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s ‘gegenpress’ style brought about impressive victories over Chelsea and Manchester City, plus a Boxing Day triumph over eventual champions Leicester City. Liverpool finished in eighth place and reached both the League Cup and UEFA Europa League finals, losing both.

 

2016-2017

Jurgen Klopp’s first full season in the Liverpool FC dugout saw the club return to the elite of European football as they qualified for the UEFA Champions League with a fourth place finish. Klopp added Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum to his squad in pre-season and Liverpool made an early impression with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Arsenal on the opening weekend. Liverpool sat second on New Years’ Day but just one win from their opening six matches in 2017 saw the club drop to fifth. Important wins included Emre Can’s spectacular Goal of the Season strike to defeat Watford before a final day 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough saw the Merseysiders edge out Arsenal to a spot in Europe’s premier club competition for the following season.

 

2017-2018

Liverpool FC signed Mohamed Salah in the summer from AS Roma and the Egyptian enjoyed an extraordinary season, breaking the record for most goals scored in a 38-game Premier League season, as well as winning the Golden Boot and PFA Players’ Player of the Year. Salah’s goals helped Liverpool to finish in fourth place for the second successive season, although they were 25 points adrift of runaway champions Manchester City.

There was also a memorable run to the UEFA Champions League final which ended with a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid whilst Virgil van Dijk was signed in January for a new world record fee for a defender, costing the club £75 million from Southampton.

 

2018-2019

Following Loris Karius’ miserable night in the Champions League final, Klopp finally addressed the goalkeeping issue by paying AS Roma over £65 million for Brazilian no.1 Allison. Liverpool have made an extraordinary start to the season, remaining undefeated until a recent 2-1 loss to Manchester City. They have dropped just nine points in their first 21 matches of the season and hold a four-point lead at the top of the table.

Highlights include a 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal, Divock Origi’s crazy and dramatic last-gasp winner in December’s Merseyside Derby and a 3-1 success over Manchester United which led to the Red Devils sacking Jose Mourinho two days later.

Premier League Rewind: 22nd-23rd September 2012

Results: Swansea City 0-3 Everton, Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City, Southampton 4-1 Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Reading, West Ham United 1-1 Sunderland, Wigan Athletic 1-2 Fulham, Liverpool FC 1-2 Manchester United, Newcastle United 1-0 Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Queens Park Rangers, Manchester City 1-1 Arsenal

It was still early days in the 2012-2013 season but even at this stage, it was intriguing to see who was setting the early pace and who had radical improvements to make.

One team who had the latter feeling were Liverpool FC. New manager Brendan Rodgers was still awaiting his first Premier League victory as Reds’ boss and it wasn’t going to get any easier with Manchester United the visitors to Anfield. It was a highly-charged atmosphere as this was the first game since the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel which had cleared the Liverpool supporters of any blame whatsoever from the 1989 tragedy where 96 supporters went to an FA Cup semi-final and never came home. Both managers pleaded pre-match for the two sets of fans to put aside rivalries on this day and unite together in the wake of these groundbreaking and emotional revelations from the panel’s findings.

Jonjo Shelvey wasn’t listening. A rash challenge on Jonny Evans saw the Liverpool midfielder sent off before half-time and his foul-mouthed tirade in the direction of Sir Alex Ferguson as he left the field won him no fans. Despite playing with 10 men, Liverpool FC took the lead early in the second half through the inspirational Steven Gerrard. They were quickly pegged back by Rafael’s effort before Robin van Persie’s well-placed penalty nine minutes from time ensured United left with all three points. Liverpool were now in the bottom three and remained one of six sides without a victory so far.

The win kept Manchester United in second spot and just a single point behind early league leaders Chelsea. The Blues required an 85th minute winner from Ashley Cole to beat a plucky Stoke City side 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal came into the weekend in third spot but dropped out of the top four after drawing 1-1 at reigning champions Manchester City. Laurent Koscielny equalised in the 82nd minute after another centre-back in Joleon Lescott opened the scoring.

Unlike their Merseyside rivals, Everton were in brilliant form. The Toffees were traditional slow-starters but not in 2012-2013. They took apart Swansea City at The Liberty Stadium, winning 3-0. With one goal and one assist, Marouane Fellaini was once again the star man. Completing the top four were a surprise package in West Bromwich Albion. Romelu Lukaku’s 71st minute goal was the difference between the Baggies and Reading. They won 1-0 to sit fourth and leave Reading second-bottom and struggling to find their feet back in the top-flight.

Fellow Premier League returnees Southampton had made a wretched start, losing their first four games but they tasted victory for the first time in the campaign against Aston Villa. They trailed 1-0 at half-time but enjoyed a sensational second half display to win 4-1. Rickie Lambert scored twice and there were also first goals of the season for Nathaniel Clyne and Jason Puncheon. The other newly-promoted side were West Ham United and they had been doing better. However, they did require a Kevin Nolan injury-time equaliser to salvage a 1-1 home draw with Sunderland. The Black Cats had drawn their first four matches and Steven Fletcher had scored all of their four goals so far.

What else happened in September 2012?

  • Andy Murray becomes the first British male tennis player to win a Grand Slam since 1936 when he beats Novak Djokovic in five sets to win the US Open at Flushing Meadows.
  • Maria Miller is appointed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, replacing Jeremy Hunt.
  • Chris Moyles hosts his final breakfast show on BBC Radio 1 and is replaced by Nick Grimshaw.
  • The updated version of the US soap opera Dallas makes its British television debut on Channel 5.
  • Neurosurgeon and Formula One medical delegate Professor Sid Watkins passes away aged 84 after a heart attack.
  • Iran’s support for Syria and nuclear plans sees Canada officially cuts diplomatic ties with them. The Canadians close their embassy in Tehran and orders the expulsion of Iranian diplomats from Ottawa.

Great Goals: Victor Wanyama – Liverpool FC vs. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (February 2018)

At Anfield in February 2018, Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur played out a thrilling encounter which saw missed penalties, goalscoring milestones achieved and two contenders for Goal of the Season.

Leading 1-0 from the third minute onwards, Liverpool were hanging on against a barrage of Tottenham pressure and they eventually buckled with 10 minutes left to play. It looked like Liverpool FC goalkeeper Loris Karius had got enough on his punch from Christian Eriksen’s cross. The ball landed at the feet of Victor Wanyama and the Kenyan international launched a missile of a shot into the top corner of the net. No goalkeeper in the world would have stopped this thunderbolt.

Wanyama had only just arrived into the game as a substitute, so this was some introduction. The points were ultimately shared and despite some individual brilliance from Mohamed Salah later on, this goal from Wanyama was surely the best of the day.

Shock Results: Liverpool FC 0-1 Barnsley (November 1997)

Goalscorer: Ashley Ward 35

Teams:

Liverpool FC: David James, Stig Inge Bjornebye (Danny Murphy 65), Bjorn Tore Kvarme, Dominic Matteo, Jason McAteer, Jamie Redknapp, Patrik Berger, Oyvind Leonhardsen, Steve McManaman, Karl-Heinz Riedle, Michael Owen

Barnsley: Lars Leese, Darren Barnard, Arjan de Zeeuw, Nicky Eaden, Peter Markstedt, Adie Moses, Martin Bullock, Neil Redfearn, Eric Tinkler, Andy Liddell (Matty Appleby 68), Ashley Ward (John Hendrie 86)

Referee: Jeff Winter, Attendance: 41,011

The 1997-1998 Premier League season was Barnsley’s first-ever in the top-flight. Their supporters were ready to enjoy the ride but the Tykes had already taken some hefty beatings by the end of November 1997. They’d lost 5-0 away at Arsenal, 6-0 at home to Chelsea and 7-0 at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Therefore, the Yorkshire side travelled to Anfield low on confidence and fearing the worst.

Liverpool needed just three more goals to reach 400 Premier League strikes at Anfield and manager Roy Evans gave a start to his new young prodigy, Michael Owen. Danny Wilson also made a big call by dropping his first-choice goalkeeper Dave Watson and replacing him with German Lars Leese.

The goals were expected to come for the home side but Barnsley stayed resilient in the first 30 minutes. Patrik Berger tested Leese with a long-range effort before Karl-Heinz Riedle wasted two very good opportunities. The German had scored twice in the UEFA Champions League final for previous club Borussia Dortmund just six months earlier. However, he was finding the going very tough in English football.

Then, the Anfield faithful were stunned when the visitors took an unexpected lead through a goal of comic proportions. Andy Liddell managed to escape David James’ clutches and got to the by-line before squaring the ball back. Berger got to the cutback first but his poor control saw summer signing Ashley Ward poke the ball home into the unguarded net to score one of the easiest goals of his career. By half-time, the Liverpool FC supporters were fed up and booed the team off at the interval. They might have been missing Paul Ince and Robbie Fowler but it had been a very disjointed performance from those who played.

There was a slight improvement in the second half and Leese was by far the busier goalkeeper. He denied Owen and summer arrival Oyvind Leonhardsen in the opening moments of the second period. By now, Barnsley were firmly penned back in their own half but they wouldn’t budge. Leese was enjoying his day in-goal and defensive debutant Peter Markstedt looked like a seasoned campaigner as Owen struggled to make the telling impact. Most of Liverpool’s chances fell to Riedle but he wasted more opportunities. First, he shot over after being set-up by Stig Inge Bjornebye before being played through by substitute Danny Murphy, only to fire straight at Leese’s legs. It just wasn’t the home side’s day.

Barnsley’s tremendous goalkeeper and heroic defensive effort meant they had just pulled off one of the shock results of the season. Although they would be relegated at the end of the campaign, their supporters will always look back on this amazing day on their only top-flight visit to Anfield when they silenced The Kop and left with three welcome points.

Iconic Moments: An ill-fitting Kop farewell (April 1994)

Following the Hillsborough disaster, the Taylor Report recommended that all football grounds should become all-seater stadiums by May 1994. That meant some changes to several top-flight stadiums and one of those came at Liverpool FC.

The Spion Kop was one of the famous terraces in the world. It was mighty when it was full to the rafters with fans swinging, cheering and shouting their heroes towards a string of league championships, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. Even when it was empty, it was a mighty sight to see the stand as it was. However, times were changing and Liverpool had to fall into line with the updated safety recommendations. After 88 years of standing on The Kop, the time had come for it to go.

On 30th April 1994, the club played their final home match of a largely disappointing season at home to Norwich City. Liverpool bought back many of the club’s legends, including Ian Callaghan, Billy Liddell, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish in a celebration as this was the last match to be played here before the bulldozers came in during the summer. It would turn out to be an ill-fitting farewell to such an iconic cathedral of English football.

Jeremy Goss scored a brilliant goal infront of The Spion Kop as Norwich left with all three points. Their 1-0 win was deserved on a day when the players seemed to play the occasion rather than the game. It was a sad end but the memories will always remain and the new Kop – which was built in time for the new 1994-1995 season still holds over 12,000 seated fans today.

Premier League Files: Stephen Ward

Premier League Career: Wolverhampton Wanderers (2009-2012), Burnley (2014-2015, 2016-PRESENT)

Republic of Ireland international Stephen Ward is applying his trade currently in the Premier League with Burnley and he has been part of the Clarets’ side that heads into 2018 looking set to be pushing for the European positions rather than a relegation battle.

The left-back has been outstanding for manager Sean Dyche so far this season and he even scored on the opening weekend of the 2017-2018 campaign as Burnley picked up a surprising and impressive victory away at reigning champions Chelsea.

He began his senior career with Bohemians before moving into the English game with Wolverhampton Wanderers in January 2007. The fee was reported to be a paltry £100,000. Two years later, he was part of the Wolves squad that won promotion to the Premier League as champions of the Championship.

He started at Wolves as a left-sided midfielder but it was the 2008-2009 season when he began to play initially as a makeshift left-back after the regular custodian of the role, George Elokobi, damaged a knee very early on in the season. He would make the position his own over the next four seasons.

Wolves might have always been battling to maintain their Premier League status but Ward often stood out as one of their most consistent performers. In 2010-2011, he was even asked by Mick McCarthy to play as a striker on occasion and it was a role he has no issues in fulfilling. On one occasion, this worked a treat for the club.

Wolves travelled to Anfield for the final game of the Premier League calendar year of 2010. It was a Liverpool FC side that were brittle on confidence with Roy Hodgson looking like a man on borrowed time with every passing defeat the club were suffering. Nevertheless, Wolves were given little hope of winning but they pulled off a deserved and surprising 1-0 victory. It was Ward who came up with the winning goal – his first for the Midlands side in nearly four years. It was a personal triumph for the player too; who had been sent off on his first visit to Liverpool’s ground a year earlier.

Afterwards, McCarthy said: “I’m so pleased for him, if ever the cliché ‘Unsung Hero’ applied to anyone its Wardy. He came here as a centre-forward, went to left-wing, and then played at left-back, he’s played in midfield. Now he’s gone back upfront and got us the winner.”

Tougher times followed at Molineux with back-to-back relegations to League One. Ward joined Brighton & Hove Albion on-loan for the 2013-2014 campaign where he helped the club reach the play-offs. A permanent move was agreed between the clubs but interest from Premier League teams scuppered that deal. He joined newly-promoted Burnley on the eve of the 2014-2015 Premier League season beginning.

Relegation followed but Stephen stuck with the club, helped them win promotion at the first attempt and played a crucial role in helping Burnley keep their Premier League status in 2016-2017. Now, the sky’s the limit for Ward and his rock-solid teammates at the halfway point of this season.

Shock Results: Liverpool FC 0-1 Ipswich Town (January 1995)

Goalscorer: Adam Tanner 30

Teams:

Liverpool FC: David James, Rob Jones, Neil Ruddock, Phil Babb, John Scales, Stig-Inge Bjornebye (Mark Walters 56), Steve McManaman, Michael Thomas, Jamie Redknapp, Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler

Ipswich Town: Craig Forrest, John Wark, Frank Yallop, Gavin Johnson, David Linighan, Geraint Williams, Adam Tanner, Steve Sedgley, Adrian Paz, Stuart Slater, Claus Thomsen

Referee: Rodger Gifford, Attendance: 32,733

Few gave Ipswich Town much chance of defeating an ever-improving Liverpool FC side in the early weeks of 1995. In the table, there was a gulfing class between the two teams.  Roy Evans’ side were in the top three in the table whilst Ipswich sat second-bottom and already looked doomed. With top scorer Chris Kiwomya on his way to Arsenal, Ipswich’s plight looked even more desperate.

Liverpool though had failed to beat fellow strugglers Crystal Palace and West Ham United at home earlier in the campaign which did give the Tractor Boys’ supporters a glimmer of hope as they turned up at Anfield. What they wouldn’t have been thrilled about was that the Reds’ were on a run of five matches without conceding a goal.

As expected, the home side started strongly with Steve McManaman’s weaving runs causing problems for the backline and full-back Rob Jones testing Craig Forrest with a couple of early efforts. So, the home support was left stunned by an opening goal from Ipswich in the 30th minute.

A nice passing move involving Geraint Williams and Steve Sedgley started the move. The skipper found Adam Tanner, who killed the ball with a deft first touch and as three defenders approached him, he produced a beautiful curling effort that left David James without a chance. Tanner had been brought into the side over the Christmas period by the new manager George Burley and struck in just his third appearance for the club.

Liverpool FC had to improve in the second half and it was Jones once again who forced Forrest into serious work. He burst into the box but unfortunately, his shot was hit straight at the Canadian international who beat it away to safety.

Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler had a very quiet afternoon as they were well-marshalled by Frank Yallop and the ex-Liverpool FC defender John Wark. McManaman did get into some dangerous positions but even his final ball wasn’t quite up to its usual standards.

Ipswich didn’t have a lot to celebrate during the season. They would finish bottom of the table and consequently were relegated but this was a special result and one of the shocks of the 1994-1995 season. Liverpool’s first defeat since November’s Merseyside derby at Goodison Park all-but-ended any potential surge into the championship picture.