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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Brendan Rodgers”

Pair of defeats puts hole in Liverpool’s top four aspirations

liverpool loses two in rowTwo games. Two defeats.

That is all it took to undo almost three months of work and put Liverpool on the outside of a top four Premier League finish and a coveted Champions League spot for next season.

Liverpool followed up a disappointing home loss to Manchester United on March 22 with an even more dispirited loss on Saturday against Arsenal at the Emirates. The pair of defeats leaves Liverpool seven points back of fourth-place Manchester City with just seven games remaining. (Although they caught on break today when City lost to Crystal Palace.)

“It’s frustrating that we got ourselves in a position over the last three months, very close, to then come up short in the past two games,” manager Brendan Rodgers told The Guardian. “But I look at Arsenal and their bench, the world class players on the field with big talent and it shows the continual work we have to do.”

There was a common thread that ran through both defeats, dating back to Dec. 14.

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5 Questions – Liverpool FC edition

Nrendan-Rodgers_AP_2900575bLiverpool opened the 2014-15 Premier League season in August with high hopes for a promising year.

The club was coming off a second-place finish in the previous season’s campaign, had once again made Anfield a site that opposing teams feared, and were returning to Champions League play after a four-year hiatus.

While Luis Suarez had taken his talents to Spain, confidence was high that Daniel Sturridge would slide into the No. 1 goal scoring spot, with Raheem Sterling making a similar progression as Sturridge’s sidekick.

The club was active over the summer, bringing in Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic, Emre Can, Alberto Moreno and Dejan Lovren, adding youth and depth to the squad, and Rickie Lambert for experience. And just after the start of the season, Liverpool added the mercurial Mario Balotelli to bolster the offense.

One of the biggest advantages was the continued guidance of manager Brendan Rodgers, who rarely made a misstep as Liverpool battled Manchester City down to the season’s final game in 2013-14.

As the calendar turns to 2015, however, things are not going as planned at Anfield.

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From the editor’s notebook …

browns final rosterThe final roster cuts have been made, the practice squad players have been signed and the Cleveland Browns have begun preparations for Sunday’s season-opening game against Pittsburgh.

We’re less than a week away from Browns football, whether anyone is ready for it or not.

The only real surprise among the player cuts was MarQueis Gray, who seemed like he might be able to help the team as a fullback. But the Browns apparently decided that if they were going with a fullback on the roster, why not have Ray Agnew – someone who has actually played the position – over trying to convert a play like Gray to the spot. It’s a radical idea, we know, but it just may be crazy enough to work.

The Browns didn’t waste any time parting ways with cornerback Leon McFadden -who was selected about three rounds too early in the 2013 NFL Draft – and guard Garrett Gilkey, leaving Barkevious Mingo and Armonty Bryant as the only players remaining from the one and only draft from Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi. So much for that duo’s continued claims that they set the team up for long-term success.

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Liverpool solves one problem, but have they created another?

italy world cupExciting (and mildly surprising) news out of Anfield today as Liverpool has reportedly completed a £16 million transfer of talented (but controversial) striker Mario Balotelli.

The 24-year-old Balotelli will join the club from AC Milan and, if everything goes according to plan, could be on the bench for Monday’s showdown with Manchester City – the team that beat Liverpool for the Premier League title last season and Balotelli’s former club.

Despite saying just a few weeks ago that he had no interest in the Italian international, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has obviously decided that Balotelli’s ability to find the back of the net – 34 goals in 50 games at AC Milan – is just what the club needs to fill in the gap on offense left by Luis Suárez.

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Liverpool ready to kick off Premier League title chase

European Football - UEFA Champions League - Semi-Final 2nd Leg MD12 - Liverpool FC v Chelsea FCThree months after seeing their title chase slip away, Liverpool return to action on Sunday against Southampton for the start of the 2014-15 Premier League season.

While a new season always brings fresh hope for the 20 clubs in England’s top flight, Liverpool has legitimate reasons to believe the upcoming season will be a good one after finishing in second place last year, just two points off the pace of Manchester City.

As Liverpool kicks-off the nine-month marathon that is the Premier League season, let’s do a quick Thumbs up/Thumbs down about the club.

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A disappointing end to an otherwise great season

brendan rodgers liverpool seasonIt’s taken us  most of a week to come to terms with the fact that Liverpool somehow managed to let the Premier League title slip through their fingers this season.

The club’s first championship since 1990 seem assured following the win over Manchester City in mid-April. But a slip from Steven Gerrard and an embarrassing 10 minutes at Crystal Palace derailed the championship dream, which officially died last Sunday when City easily handled West Ham.

Even though they fell three points shy of the title, it was still an exciting season, one that promises hope for next year as Liverpool makes its return to the Champions League.

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From the editor’s notebook …

Nrendan-Rodgers_AP_2900575bWhile Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko may not have officially buried Liverpool’s title hopes on Saturday, he went as close to putting the final shovel of dirt on the dream as possible.

Dzeko’s two goals helped push City past Everton, 3-2, at Goodison Park and level with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table. Most importantly, City had a nine-goal lead over Liverpool in goal differential, so it will take one more miracle from Brendan Rodgers’ squad to finish off the dream season with a league title.

Even though his team is in control of its own destiny, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is not ready to make room in the trophy case just yet.

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Now it gets really interesting

liverpool lose chelseaLiverpool came into the day with a chance to, it not lock up, certainly tighten its grip on the Premier League title.

Ninety minutes later, those championship dreams slipped away just like captain Steven Gerrard’s boot slipped on the Anfield grass at the most inopportune time.

Needing to come out the game with just a single point and playing at home, where they hadn’t lost since Sept. 21 against Southampton, Liverpool were the aggressors in the first half (and in the game as they controlled the ball for 73 percent of the time) but couldn’t find a way past Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who was making his first start of the season.

“It is totally opposite to how we want to play but give credit to them for winning the game. It is not difficult to coach, putting 10 players on the edge of the 18-yard box. ” – Brendan Rodgers

Just before halftime, Gerrard slipped near midfield while collecting a pass and Chelsea’s Demba Ba had a clear path to the goal. His shot beat Simon Mignolet and Liverpool found itself in a bad position, down 1-0 at halftime.

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Indians quickly learning that it is no longer 2013

tribe lost in chicagoThe Cleveland Indians won 92 games and captured the second Wild Card slot in the American League in 2013 thanks in large part to two incredible, but ultimately unsustainable stats: their record against Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox (a combined 30-8) to go along with 11 walk-off wins.

Through the first two weekends of this season, it has become evident that it is no longer 2013.

The Tribe had a disappointing weekend in Chicago, dropping three-of-four to the White Sox. Add that to last weekend’s series against the Twins, when the Indians lost two-of-three, and things have taken a turn for the worse early in the season.

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Liverpool may just be able to pull off the title quest

liverpool title hopesThings could not have gone better last week for Liverpool, who now sit alone atop the Premier League table for the first time since Christmas Day.

After a week that saw the Reds take nine points from three matches, while Chelsea lost to Crystal Palace and Manchester City drew with Arsenal, the league title is waiting to come home to Anfield for the first time in 24 years.

All Liverpool has to do is reach out and take it  – which is easier said than done.

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