Tag Archives: Liverpool FC

Shock Results: Liverpool FC 0-1 Watford (August 1999)

Goalscorers: Tommy Mooney 14

Teams:

Liverpool FC: Sander Westerveld, Jamie Carragher, Vegard Heggem (Rigobert Song 81), Sami Hyypia, Dominic Matteo, Steven Gerrard (David Thompson 57), Jamie Redknapp, Vladimir Smicer (Karl-Heinz Riedle 62), Patrik Berger, Titi Camara, Robbie Fowler

Watford: Chris Day, Des Lyttle, Robert Page, Steve Palmer, Paul Robinson, Mark Williams, Peter Kennedy, Micah Hyde, Richard Johnson (Clint Easton 52), Tommy Mooney, Michel Ngonge (Dominic Foley 69)

Referee: Alan Wilkie, Attendance: 44,174

Watford were in their debut Premier League season and Graham Taylor’s side were given little chance of surviving by many punters in pre-season. The Hornets arrived at Anfield in August 1999 for their third match at this level without a point recorded so far. However, they stunned Merseyside with a fabulous performance and a remarkable victory which was one of the high points of their campaign.

Watford had lost their first two matches to Wimbledon and Sunderland. In both games, they’d competed well but lacked the cutting instinct to hurt their opponents. However, they made the better start with their players handling the occasion of playing at Anfield very well. Richard Johnson was the first to come close inside the first 10 minutes, with his shot stinging the palms of Liverpool’s new goalkeeper recruit, Sander Westerveld.

Four minutes later, the visitors were infront. It was a scrappy goal and a very bad one for Liverpool to concede but no-one connected with Watford was complaining. A free-kick by Peter Kennedy was played into the Liverpool penalty area towards Tommy Mooney who didn’t connect properly. However, the chance wasn’t over. Jamie Carragher slipped and two Watford attackers slid in successfully at the same time to rob Dominic Matteo. The ball fell perfectly to Mooney and he simply couldn’t miss from six-yards out. The Kop had been stunned. However, with still 76 minutes left to play, surely Gerard Houllier’s side would find a way back into the match.

There was a swift response from the Reds. Titi Camara’s driving run down the left-hand side created an opportunity for Steven Gerrard. However, the youngster fired over the crossbar. Patrik Berger came closer with his swerving free-kick, ensuring fine reactions from goalkeeper Chris Day.

However in the second half, Liverpool’s attack looked very blunt and in fact, it was the Hornets who looked more likely to add to their total. As torrential rain gave way to bright sunshine, Mooney escaped some slack marking again but was denied by the feet of Westerveld. His block fell straight to Micah Hyde, whose ambitious lob was cleared off his own goal-line by Rigobert Song. Mooney and Mark Williams squandered further opportunities to increase the lead but the one goal was enough for Taylor to claim his first victory at Liverpool FC’s home in his 22nd year as a professional manager.

Liverpool did improve and finished fourth, whilst Watford beat Chelsea a month later but were relegated well before the season’s end. However, the travelling supporters back to Hertfordshire will always remember the club’s first Premier League visit to Merseyside.

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Iconic Moments: Rafa’s rant (January 2009)

Liverpool FC last won the English league championship in 1990, before the Premier League came into existence. They narrowly missed out on the major prize with Brendan Rodgers in 2014, whilst Gerard Houllier took them close in 2002. On both occasions, the Reds had to settle for the runners-up position.

The same scenario occurred in 2009. Liverpool went into the calendar year with a useful four-point lead over reigning champions Manchester United. Manager Rafa Benitez seemed to have things under control. That was until his pre-match press conference ahead of a trip to newly-promoted Stoke City.

When asked a question about Sir Alex Ferguson complaining about Manchester United’s fixture schedule as they had a game in-hand due to their World Club Championship commitments, Benitez decided to turn the pressure up in an amazing and almost inexplicable rant – aimed at the referees’ respect campaign and TV fixture scheduling, insisting Ferguson doesn’t get punished for anything.

Part of his five-minute rage was: “All managers need to know is that only Mr Ferguson can talk about the fixtures, can talk about referees and nothing happens. We need to know that I am talking about facts, not my impression. There are things that everyone can see every single week.”

It had a negative effect. Liverpool could only draw at Stoke the next evening, whilst Manchester United beat Chelsea 3-0 24 hours later. Within a week, the Red Devils had gone to the top of the table and would eventually win their third successive Premier League title.

This was a press conference that backfired badly on Benitez. In truth, he had fallen victim to the manager who was the master at cranking up the pressure, Sir Alex Ferguson.

Shock Results: Everton 2-0 Liverpool FC (November 1994)

Goalscorers: Duncan Ferguson 57, Paul Rideout 89

Teams:

Everton: Neville Southall, Gary Ablett, Andy Hinchcliffe, Matt Jackson (Paul Rideout 45), David Unsworth, Dave Watson, Barry Horne, John Ebbrell, Joe Parkinson, Daniel Amokachi (Anders Limpar 77), Duncan Ferguson

Liverpool FC: David James, Phil Babb, Stig Inge Bjornebye (Jamie Redknapp 63), Rob Jones, Neil Ruddock, John Scales, Jan Molby, John Barnes, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Ian Rush

Referee: Dermot Gallagher, Attendance: 39,866

In November 1994, Everton were in big trouble. They were bottom of the Premier League with just one victory to their name from 16 outings. Mike Walker had been sacked in early November and replaced by former goalscoring legend Joe Royle. He had a major task on his hands.

By contrast, Liverpool FC went into the 151st Merseyside Derby in peak form. Roy Evans’ side had lost just three times all season and were sitting comfortably inside the top five. They also had enjoyed the better of this fixture in recent times, winning 20 of the previous 42 encounters with the Toffees.

As is usually the case with this fixture, there was a frenetic approach to it from both sides. Liverpool dominated possession throughout the first half but had little to show for this territory. Neville Southall was experiencing a quiet evening as Everton looked to build on recent clean sheets achieved in Walker’s final games as the club’s manager against West Ham United and Norwich City.

At half-time, Matt Jackson was forced off by injury. Rather than make a like-for-like change, Royle sensed the opportunity was there for the blue half of Merseyside to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Paul Rideout was sent on to join the power of Daniel Amokachi and Duncan Ferguson upfront for the second half.

There was an immediate response to the positive change from the manager. Amokachi’s deflected shot needed saving from James but from the resultant corner just before the hour mark, Everton took the lead. Andy Hinchcliffe delivered an in-swinging corner into the danger area. Goalkeeper James came into the crowd but never looked like taking control of the situation. He was beaten to the ball by Ferguson whose towering header found the back of the net for his first Everton goal since joining on-loan from Scottish powerhouses Rangers.

Although Liverpool had a more pressurized spell after the goal, forwards Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush got short change out of Dave Watson and David Unsworth all evening. Rideout hit the post before the visitors were sunk by more aerial prowess from Ferguson in the 89th minute. Hinchcliffe floated in another deep delivery. Again, Ferguson got the better of James in the air and via a deflection, the ball fell perfectly for Rideout to slot the ball into the empty net and seal a wonderful victory on opening night for Royle.

The win took Everton off the bottom of the table and they wouldn’t return there either. They rallied to finish 15th despite not being officially safe until five days before the season concluded. The silver lining to the season was victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup final with Rideout scoring the winner. Liverpool’s form tailed off slightly after this defeat but they still finished fourth in the final standings and also claimed silverware, beating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 to win the League Cup.

Premier League Files: Oyvind Leonhardsen

Premier League Career: Wimbledon (1994-1997), Liverpool FC (1997-1999), Tottenham Hotspur (1999-2002), Aston Villa (2002-2003)

Oyvind Leonhardsen played for four different Premier League clubs across a nine-year period. His most productive spell was at his first English top-flight club, sparkling as a creative asset in a Wimbledon side that wasn’t always the most attractive, but quite effective in the mid-1990s.

Leonhardsen started his career in his native Norway, playing for top domestic clubs Molde FK and Rosenborg. He was voted Player’s Player of the Year in Norway for 1994 and for several seasons, was considered as the top midfielder in the division. He won 86 caps for his country, winning cult hero status and playing in two World Cup final tournaments.

Joe Kinnear brought him to the Premier League in time for the 1994-1995 season and he impressed constantly on the left-wing for Wimbledon. Across three campaigns, he scored 13 times. Towards the end of his final season in south-east London, Leonhardsen informed the Dons hierarchy that he wouldn’t be extending his contract which was due to expire in 1998. Rather than lose a talented player for nothing, Wimbledon cashed in on his services and he joined Liverpool FC in May 1997 for £3.5 million.

He was initially a regular in Roy Evans’ starting line-up but he never quite found his best form at Anfield. Sometimes, the expectation to deliver seemed to weigh too much on his shoulders. He netted seven times in 37 league games before switching to Tottenham Hotspur in 1999.

Leonhardsen was a victim of George Graham’s sacking in 2001. He got frozen out of Glenn Hoddle’s first-team plans and went on-trial to Bundesliga club FC Schalke 04 despite having another year to run on his deal at White Hart Lane. Schalke didn’t offer him a permanent deal but like fellow compatriot Ronny Johnsen, Graham Taylor did at Aston Villa. Tottenham allowed him to leave on a free transfer in August 2002 and he moved to the Midlands in a bit to kick-start his career again.

He spent just one campaign at Villa Park before returning to Scandinavia, finishing his playing days in 2007 with Strømsgodset aged 37. Leonhardsen is now working as a youth coach at his former club, Lyn Fotball.

In total, Oyvind scored 30 Premier League goals in his career and impressively, never finished on the losing side whenever he found the back of the net. That is an impressive feat considering the clubs he played for during his Premier League spell weren’t world-beaters.

Great Goals: Jordan Henderson – Chelsea vs. LIVERPOOL FC (September 2016)

Midfielder Jordan Henderson was always going to find it tough replacing the inspirational Steven Gerrard as captain of Liverpool Football Club. However, he has done it his own way and whilst he might not produce the fireworks Gerrard used to serve time and time again, Henderson is a solid and strong presence in the Reds midfield line.

The skipper produced this brilliant goal in September 2016 against Chelsea. From an attacking throw-in, Gary Cahill’s clearance fell straight into Henderson’s path. He took a touch to get the ball out of his feet and had a quick look at his target. He then bent a beautiful curling shot into the top corner of Thibaut Courtois’ goal. It was a marvellous goal and it won Goal of the Month honours for September 2016.

Liverpool FC won 2-1 and were one of only two sides to beat Antonio Conte’s champions-elect at Stamford Bridge during the 2016-2017 season.

Iconic Moments: Fowler’s sportsmanship (March 1997)

Arsenal and Liverpool FC were among the title challengers to Manchester United in the 1996-1997 Premier League season. They went head-to-head in March 1997 with the loser of the game at Highbury likely to be knocked out of the title race.

Liverpool were already 1-0 ahead through Stan Collymore’s strike when the controversial moment in this game occurred and also, remarkable sportsmanship at the heat of battle. Liverpool defender Mark Wright played a long-ball through for Robbie Fowler. Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman came charging out of his goal and Fowler went over under his challenge. Referee Gerald Ashby gave a penalty.

Amazingly, Fowler tried to challenge the referee’s decision, insisting no contact had been made by Seaman and he simply skipped over the attempted tackle and his momentum saw him fall over. Despite his pleas, Ashby insisted he wasn’t changing his mind. Fowler did take the resultant spot-kick which was saved by Seaman. Unfortunately for the England no.1 goalkeeper, Jason McAteer hammered home the rebound and Liverpool went home with all three points, winning 2-1.

Fowler received a UEFA Fair Play certificate for his sportsmanship approach. In 2017, he told the Liverpool Echo: “It wasn’t a penalty and because he was my mate from the England side, I just said it wasn’t a pen.”

Premier League Files: Danny Ings

Premier League Career: Burnley (2014-2015), Liverpool FC (2015-PRESENT)

In April 2018, Danny Ings opened the scoring for Liverpool FC in their 2-2 away draw with West Bromwich Albion. It ended a 930-day drought without a goal in the Premier League and no-one could deny him the feeling of finding the target again. This is after a horrendous couple of seasons with two serious knee injuries.

Ings started his career in Southampton’s youth team but was released as a schoolboy. He signed a two-year apprentice contract with their south coast rivals, AFC Bournemouth shortly afterwards and he made 27 appearances for their first-team between 2009 and 2011. He moved to Burnley in the summer of 2011 and linked up again with Eddie Howe, who was Burnley manager at the time and had been the Bournemouth boss whilst Ings was with the Cherries.

His first-team breakthrough looked like it would come in the 2012-2013 season following the departure of Jay Rodriguez to Southampton but after impressing in pre-season, he suffered a serious knee injury, tearing his knee cartilage and forcing him out of action for six months.

Finally, Danny managed to stay clear of the treatment table in 2013-2014 and revelled in the opportunity to play on a week-to-week basis. He ended the season with an impressive tally of 22 goals as Burnley finished second to Leicester City and won promotion to the Premier League. He also held off competition from Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater and Ross McCormack of Leeds United to be voted the Championship Player of the Year at the Football League Awards.

The big question now was whether he could make the step-up successfully to Premier League level. 11 goals in 35 appearances suggested he did in 2014-2015. It took him a while to score his first goal in the top-flight but when it came in a 3-1 home defeat to Everton, it was the lift-off Ings needed for his season. He struck twice in two minutes to ensure Burnley recorded their first away victory of the campaign in November 2014 away at Stoke City and finished as the club’s top scorer for the second successive season.

Ings joined Liverpool FC in the summer of 2015 and was looking to continue his good form from the previous two seasons. His first Premier League goal for the Reds came at The Kop end in September 2015, three minutes after arriving as a half-time substitute in the 1-1 draw with Norwich City. A month later, he opened the scoring in the Merseyside Derby in what turned out to be Brendan Rodgers’ final match in-charge of Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp succeeded Rodgers and in his very first training session, Ings cruelly suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury and was ruled out for the rest of the campaign. His rehabilitation went better than expected and he made a substitute appearance on the final day of the season at West Bromwich Albion. He began 2016-2017 in the reserves’ side in a bid to regain full match fitness with some sporadic outings in League Cup matches. Unfortunately, he replicated his previous injury in his right knee during a League Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur in October 2016, keeping him on the sidelines again for a lengthy spell. After 11 months absent he returned in September 2017 to first-team action with a substitute appearance in the League Cup loss to Leicester City.

Whilst it is unlikely he will be a regular starter at Anfield, especially with the form of Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, Ings is well-liked by the coaching staff and fits into Klopp’s DNA style of high-pressing gameplay. It will be interesting to see if he is happy with his current situation as an impact player in the coming months.

Seasonal Records: 2008-2009

For all the statistical fans out there, here are some of the season’s records from the 2008-2009 Premier League campaign. Liverpool FC put in a mighty challenge for the championship but for the third successive year, Manchester United prevailed to make it 18 league championships, levelling the scores with their North West rivals.

FINAL TABLE

Position Team P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Manchester United 38 28 6 4 68 24 +44 90
2 Liverpool FC 38 25 11 2 77 27 +50 86
3 Chelsea 38 25 8 5 68 24 +44 83
4 Arsenal 38 20 12 6 68 37 +31 72
5 Everton 38 17 12 9 55 37 +18 63
6 Aston Villa 38 17 11 10 54 48 +6 62
7 Fulham 38 14 11 13 39 34 +5 53
8 Tottenham Hotspur 38 14 9 15 45 45 0 51
9 West Ham United 38 14 9 15 42 45 -3 51
10 Manchester City 38 15 5 18 58 50 +8 50
11 Wigan Athletic 38 12 9 17 34 45 -11 45
12 Stoke City 38 12 9 17 38 55 -17 45
13 Bolton Wanderers 38 11 8 19 41 53 -12 41
14 Portsmouth 38 10 11 17 38 57 -19 41
15 Blackburn Rovers 38 10 11 17 40 60 -20 41
16 Sunderland 38 9 9 20 34 54 -20 36
17 Hull City 38 8 11 19 39 64 -25 35
18 Newcastle United 38 7 13 18 40 59 -19 34
19 Middlesbrough 38 7 11 20 28 57 -29 32
20 West Bromwich Albion 38 8 8 22 36 67 -31 32

 

THE BASIC STATS

Goals Scored 942
European qualifiers Manchester United (UEFA Champions League)

Liverpool FC (UEFA Champions League)

Chelsea (UEFA Champions League)

Arsenal (UEFA Champions League)

Everton (UEFA Europa League)

Aston Villa (UEFA Europa League)

Fulham (UEFA Europa League)

Longest winning run 11 games (Manchester United)
Longest unbeaten run 21 games (Arsenal)
Longest winless run 14 games (Middlesbrough)
Longest losing run 6 games (Blackburn Rovers & Hull City)
Highest attendance 75,569 (Manchester United vs. Liverpool FC)
Lowest attendance 14,169 (Wigan Athletic vs. West Ham United)

 

AWARDS

PFA Players’ Player of the Year Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
PFA Young Player of the Year Ashley Young (Aston Villa)
Football Writers’ Award Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC)
PFA Team of the Year Edwin van der Sar, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Nemanja Vidic, Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ashley Young, Nicolas Anelka, Fernando Torres
Manager of the Year David Moyes (Everton)
Premier League Goal of the Season Glen Johnson (PORTSMOUTH vs. Hull City)

 

HAT-TRICK HEROES

Player Teams Score Date
Gabriel Agbonlahor Aston Villa vs. Manchester City 4-2 17th August 2008
Emmanuel Adebayor Blackburn Rovers vs. Arsenal 0-4 13th September 2008
Robinho Manchester City vs. Stoke City 3-0 26th October 2008
Nicolas Anelka Chelsea vs. Sunderland 5-0 1st November 2008
Steven Gerrard Liverpool FC vs. Aston Villa 5-0 22nd March 2009
Andrey Arshavin (4) Liverpool FC vs. Arsenal 4-4 21st April 2009

 

TOP SCORERS

Position Player Teams No of Goals
1 Nicolas Anelka Chelsea 19
2 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United 18
3 Steven Gerrard Liverpool FC 16
4= Robinho Manchester City 14
4= Fernando Torres Liverpool FC 14
6= Wayne Rooney Manchester United 12
6= Dirk Kuyt Liverpool FC 12
6= Frank Lampard Chelsea 12
6= Darren Bent Tottenham Hotspur 12
10= Gabriel Agbonlahor Aston Villa 11
10= Robin van Persie Arsenal 11
10= Jermain Defoe Portsmouth & Tottenham Hotspur 11
10= Ricardo Fuller Stoke City 11
10= Kevin Davies Bolton Wanderers 11
10= John Carew Aston Villa 11
16= Robbie Keane Liverpool FC & Tottenham Hotspur 10
16= Emmanuel Adebayor Arsenal 10
16= Kenwyne Jones Sunderland 10
16= Carlton Cole West Ham United 10
16= Amr Zaki Wigan Athletic 10
16= Matt Taylor Bolton Wanderers 10
16= Peter Crouch Portsmouth 10
16= Benni McCarthy Blackburn Rovers 10
16= Djibril Cisse Sunderland 10
25 Dimitar Berbatov Manchester United 9

BIGGEST VICTORIES

Manchester City 6-0 Portsmouth 21st September 2008
Manchester United 5-0 Stoke City 15th November 2008
West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Manchester United 27th January 2009
Liverpool FC 5-0 Aston Villa 22nd March 2009
Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea 18th October 2008
Chelsea 5-0 Sunderland 1st November 2008
Hull City 0-5 Wigan Athletic 30th August 2008
Newcastle United 1-5 Liverpool FC 28th December 2008
Manchester City 5-1 Hull City 26th December 2008
Manchester United 4-0 West Bromwich Albion 18th October 2008

 

HIGHEST SCORING GAMES

No of Goals Teams Date
8 Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur 29th October 2008
8 Liverpool FC 4-4 Arsenal 21st April 2009
7 Manchester United 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur 25th April 2009
7 Manchester United 4-3 Hull City 1st November 2008
7 Chelsea 4-3 Bolton Wanderers 11th April 2009
6 Manchester City 6-0 Portsmouth 21st September 2008
6 Newcastle United 1-5 Liverpool FC 28th December 2008
6 Manchester City 5-1 Hull City 26th December 2008
6 Aston Villa 4-2 Manchester City 17th August 2008
6 Aston Villa 4-2 Bolton Wanderers 13th December 2008
6 Manchester City 4-2 West Bromwich Albion 19th April 2009
6 Aston Villa 3-3 Everton 12th April 2009
5 Manchester United 5-0 Stoke City 15th November 2008
5 West Bromwich Albion 0-5 Manchester United 27th January 2009
5 Liverpool FC 5-0 Aston Villa 22nd March 2009
5 Middlesbrough 0-5 Chelsea 18th October 2008
5 Chelsea 5-0 Sunderland 1st November 2008
5 Hull City 0-5 Wigan Athletic 30th August 2008
5 Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool FC 14th March 2009
5 Arsenal 1-4 Chelsea 10th May 2009

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Jose Baxter Everton 2-3 Blackburn Rovers 16 years, 6 months, 9 days 16th August 2008
Jack Wilshere Blackburn Rovers 0-4 Arsenal 16 years, 8 months, 12 days 13th September 2008
Jack Rodwell Everton 2-3 Blackburn Rovers 17 years, 5 months, 5 days 16th August 2008
Chris Wood Blackburn Rovers 0-0 West Bromwich Albion 17 years, 5 months, 17 days 24th May 2009
Federico Macheda Manchester United 3-2 Aston Villa 17 years, 7 months, 14 days 5th April 2009
Aaron Ramsey Blackburn Rovers 0-4 Arsenal 17 years, 8 months, 18 days 13th September 2008
Aaron Doran Liverpool FC 4-0 Blackburn Rovers 17 years, 10 months, 29 days 11th April 2009
Danny Welbeck Manchester United 5-0 Stoke City 17 years, 11 months, 20 days 15th November 2008
Kazenga Lualua Newcastle United 1-5 Liverpool FC 18 years, 18 days 28th December 2008
Callum McManaman Wigan Athletic 1-0 Portsmouth 18 years, 29 days 24th May 2009

 

OLDEST PLAYERS USED

Player Teams Age at the time Date
Dean Windass Manchester City 5-1 Hull City 39 years, 8 months, 24 days 26th December 2008
David James Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Portsmouth 38 years, 9 months, 7 days 9th May 2009
Tugay Blackburn Rovers 0-0 West Bromwich Albion 38 years, 9 months 24th May 2009
Dean Kiely Blackburn Rovers 0-0 West Bromwich Albion 38 years, 7 months, 14 days 24th May 2009
Edwin van der Sar Manchester United 0-0 Arsenal 38 years, 6 months, 17 days 16th May 2009
Brad Friedel Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle United 38 years, 6 days 24th May 2009
Dwight Yorke Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United 37 years, 5 months, 8 days 11th April 2009
Mike Pollitt Wigan Athletic 1-1 Liverpool FC 36 years, 10 months, 30 days 28th January 2009
Mark Schwarzer Fulham 0-2 Everton 36 years, 7 months, 18 days 24th May 2009
Linvoy Primus Portsmouth 3-1 Sunderland 35 years, 8 months, 4 days 18th May 2009

 

CLEAN SHEETS

Position Player Teams No of Clean Sheets
1 Edwin van der Sar Manchester United 22
2 Pepe Reina Liverpool FC 20
3 Petr Cech Chelsea 19
4 Tim Howard Everton 17
5= Manuel Almunia Arsenal 15
5= Mark Schwarzer Fulham 15
7 Brad Friedel Aston Villa 13
8 Heurelho Gomes Tottenham Hotspur 12
9= Chris Kirkland Wigan Athletic 11
9= Thomas Sorensen Stoke City 11

Premier League Files: Ryan Babel

Premier League Career: Liverpool FC (2007-2011)

Ryan Babel has enjoyed a recent renaissance in his playing career in Turkey with Besiktas. The Dutchman is now 31-years-old and has won league championships in Istanbul, played in the UEFA Champions League for them and is back in the plans of the Netherlands international setup.

He spent nearly four years in the Premier League with Liverpool FC in a career that showed flashes of wonderful talent and ability but was never quite able to sustain that promise into regular consistency.

Born in Amsterdam, Babel began his career at Ajax in 1998, working his way up through the youth team and into the senior squad. He made his senior debut for the club just a few weeks after his 17th birthday and spent the next three years as a prominent part of their squad, winning a couple of Dutch Cups along the way. He had already won international recognition from the Netherlands and made 73 appearances for the former European Cup winners, scoring 14 times. Suitors included Arsenal and Newcastle United but in July 2007, it was Liverpool FC who would bring Ryan to the Premier League, paying Ajax £11.5 million for his services.

He started life at Anfield on the bench and unfortunately for him, it became a fairly common place during his time on Merseyside. He had explosive pace and also a bundle of clever tricks at his disposal. He demonstrated this for the first time when he scored his first LFC goal in September 2007 during their 6-0 rout of the league’s whipping boys, Derby County. He scored four league goals but saved his best form for Liverpool’s run to the Champions League semi-finals, scoring five times in this run. This included two goals from the bench in Liverpool’s record-breaking 8-0 victory over Besiktas and sealing progress to the semi-finals with the fourth goal in the 4-2 quarter-final, second leg triumph over English rivals Arsenal.

Babel’s first major Premier League contribution was to score the winning goal against Manchester United in September 2008 which was Liverpool’s first league win over their North West rivals during Rafa Benitez’s tenure as Reds boss. Yet again, this moment had seen him used as a super sub and whilst he was a great accessory to have in reserve, you got the sense the player wasn’t too happy with his lack of starting-time involvement.

He was criticised for his lack of work-rate and attitude towards the game with Benitez often preferring the likes of Dirk Kuyt and Yossi Benayoun to Babel in the wide positions. The talent and the spectacular strikes were always there but unlocking it on a regular basis became a genuine problem for the Liverpool coaching staff. Even when Benitez left the club in the summer of 2010, he didn’t make the desired impact on Roy Hodgson’s arrival, scoring just once in the 2010-2011 season when he filled in as an emergency striker against Aston Villa. In fact, he was making more headlines on social media.

One of the first Premier League players to use Twitter to communicate with the fans, it got Ryan into trouble in January 2011. He was fined £10,000 by the FA after he posted a photoshopped image of referee Howard Webb in Manchester United kit following Liverpool’s FA Cup third round exit at Old Trafford. It was virtually his final involvement as a Liverpool player. Before the month was out, he’d moved to the Bundesliga, signing for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in a £8 million deal.

He scored six times in 51 appearances for Hoffenheim before being released in August 2012. He has also had spells back with Ajax, Kasimpasa in Turkey and Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates before returning to the European game with Besiktas in January 2017. With 14 goals in 41 appearances, it looks like Babel has finally found a place where he feels fully comfortable in his surroundings.

Shock Results: Sunderland 2-1 Liverpool FC (December 2002)

Goalscorers: Gavin McCann 36, Milan Baros 67, Michael Proctor 85

Teams:

Sunderland: Jurgen Macho, Phil Babb, Joachim Bjorklund, Michael Gray (Michael Proctor 81), George McCartney, Stephen Wright, Kevin Kilbane, Gavin McCann, Paul Thirlwell, Tore Andre Flo (Marcus Stewart 89), Kevin Phillips

Liverpool FC: Chris Kirkland, Jamie Carragher, Stephane Henchoz, Djimi Traore, Igor Biscan (El-Hadji Diouf 63), Dietmar Hamann (John Arne Riise 46), Steven Gerrard, Danny Murphy, Vladimir Smicer (Salif Diao 72), Milan Baros, Michael Owen

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 37,118

Having breezed through their first 12 Premier League matches undefeated in the 2002-2003 season, Liverpool FC were in the midst of a very difficult period. Gerard Houllier had seen his side suffer four defeats in their last five league matches. Nevertheless, they were expected to end this tricky patch with a victory against a Sunderland side that had mustered just three league victories all season.

Howard Wilkinson’s team had won just twice infront of their supporters since April but did claim a hard-fought point at Anfield when the sides met a month earlier. They needed to improve on a dreadful performance and result against Manchester City six days earlier, crashing to a 3-0 home defeat. They started well though with Kevin Kilbane coming close to opening the scoring after just 12 minutes, flashing a shot just wide of Chris Kirkland’s goal. Liverpool had played a UEFA Cup tie against Vitesse Arnhem a few nights earlier and certainly looked the leggier of the two teams.

The home side had gone over 500 minutes without a Premier League goal but that drought would end nine minutes before half-time. Ex-Evertonian Gavin McCann got the better of Steven Gerrard and linked up nicely with Tore Andre Flo. The nomadic Norwegian forward poked the ball back into McCann’s path. He calmly dinked his effort over Kirkland to open the scoring.

Liverpool had to improve in the second half and Houllier responded by taking off defensively-minded player Dietmar Hamann for the more attacking instincts of John Arne Riise. However, they were about to be denied constantly by Jurgen Macho. The Austrian pulled off several impressive saves to deny the likes of Milan Baros and Danny Murphy. The visitors completely bossed the start of the second half but on 58 minutes, could have fallen two goals behind.

Kevin Phillips’ header hit Jamie Carragher, whose arm was in a very unnatural position. Mark Halsey believed Carragher had blocked the attempt with his hand and gave a penalty. It was a big decision and a wrong call. Replays showed Carragher had been struck in the face by Phillips’ header. McCann took responsibility for the penalty but looked nervous and his kick was weak. Kirkland leapt off his goal-line to push his effort around the post. Liverpool felt justice had been done and finally found a way through Macho nine minutes later. Carragher threaded a beautiful ball through Sunderland’s backline and this time, Baros made no mistake to slot home a deserved equaliser. Surely, only one side was going to go on and win?

Not so. Wilkinson bought on Sunderland-born midfielder Michael Proctor with nine minutes remaining. Four minutes later, he put himself in the nightmares of many Reds supporters, scoring his first Sunderland goal just weeks after returning from a loan spell at Bradford City. He needed two attempts at it but he found the net to take the Black Cats out of the relegation zone.

This would end up being Sunderland’s last win of the season as they went down with just 19 points. Liverpool would go 11 games without victory in the Premier League and this run would ultimately cost them a top four finish come the end of the season.

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.

Great Goals: Raul Meireles – Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. LIVERPOOL FC (January 2011)

Roy Hodgson’s tenure as Liverpool FC manager was a painful one for many of the club’s supporters but one of the best bits of business he did do was to bring in the Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles from FC Porto.

It took Meireles a little bit of time to settle into the Premier League but he scored a flurry of goals in January and February 2011 and this was his best strike – a cracking volley away at Molineux against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Liverpool were leading 1-0 thanks to a first half strike from Fernando Torres when Meireles tried his luck five minutes after the interval. A long ball over the top was headed away by a Wolves defender. Meireles watched the ball all the way and connected sweetly as it dropped from the sky. Wayne Hennessey could only stand and watch as the ball hit the back of the net.

Liverpool FC won 3-0 and it was the first win in the second managerial reign for Kenny Dalglish. It was part of a run that saw Meireles score in five of the next six matches but he would leave the club surprisingly in the summer of 2011, joining Torres at Chelsea to win the UEFA Champions League a year later.