Monday, December 31, 2007

Brave City Held On

English Premiership

Man City 0 - 0 LIVERPOOL

The last league game of 2007 ended up with a stalemate as a resilient Manchester City side frustrated Liverpool and earned an undeserved point. Only seperated by a point, a win for any of this side will propel themselves well into the top 4 position, going into 2008.

Liverpool had the chances to do so, yet the profligacy in big games still apparent.

Though credits must also go out to the Man City defence as they put up with a wonderful back-against-the-wall effort and manage to mitigate wave after wave of attack and stopped the man of the moment, Fernando Torres, from scoring.

The Spanish had two or three clear chances but failed to capitalise on them. He must've regretted not slotting in that chance just after half time and it could altogether be a different story if he did.

Knowing that he could be the first Liverpool player since Michael Owen in 2001 to score 10 league goals before the year ends, he gets full marks for his effort but disappointingly, no end result. If the stain of mud on the shirt represents the endeavor of the player, one could say he puts in the most for this game.

Up against a physically solid defenders in Richard Dunne, Nedum Onuoha and Micah Richards, he knew he was going to have a hard time, so did Dirk Kuyt.

And the trio deserves praise for their last ditch tackles and goal line clearances. City could've crumbled big time in the last 10 minutes after Liverpool finally decides to shift into their fifth gear. But they stood their ground gave a no-nonsense performance.

The game was finely poised as both teams knew how important it is to gain victory at the City of Manchester stadium but probably this mentality made both teams a little jittery in the beginning.

With Sami Hyypia out injured and Daniel Agger still recovering from his metatarsal injury, Rafa Benitez employed Alvaro Arbeloa in centre defence, alongside Jamie Carragher.

The full-back's inexperience in that position was exploited by Martin Petrov and Elano but as the game went on, he steadied himself and was rarely troubled from then on.

Both sides had good chances but was premium. Other than a few stray shots from Gerrard and Aurelio, the Liverpool front line were anonymous, so was City's. As the game developed, Vassell and Elano were starved off any support and were left isolated.

Might be due to the words of the manager at half time, Liverpool came out with more intent and stepped up the tempo of the game. They nearly took the lead early in the second half as two chances were created in a short amount of time but Torres was unable to finish.

City desperate and Liverpool frustrated. The home team looked less comfortable as time went on. The Reds took hold of initiative and launched themselves at City.

Best chances of the game fell to Dirk Kuyt but the wasteful 'striker' was not able to capitalise. On his part, it was a weak header on goal but City goalkeeper, Joe Hart, made a wonderful reflex save before Richard Dunne heroically cleared the ball of the line.

So City goes into 2008 a point behind Liverpool in 5th place and the Reds should feel the pinch of not putting the game to bed and build up a comfortable cushion between themselves and the other teams outside the top 4.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Major Update

Sorry lads. I've sort of neglected this blog of mine and my apologies for not being uber involved here. Well, I've been out of town for the past 4-5 days for my church camp so I didn't have the time to watch the matches, let aside penning down thoughts here.

But anyway, two disappointing results back to back. Chelsea and United, two huge rivals of ours and it still seemed like we've a long way to go to be on par with their standards. I did catch the match on Sunday against our north-west rivals and it seemed like every single time we play them, we got suppressed and failed to perform at the highest level.

Chances were wasted before a clinical United team grab a goal and then sat back and invited pressure. As one of the major weaknesses of Liverpool is to break down defence who sit deep, they struggled and didn't seemed to cause much problem for ManYoo thereafter.

Then we crashed out of the League Cup after a defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, a place we never seem to get any results from. I didn't catch the match so I won't write down any comments on that.

UCL Last 16 Draw

Olympiacos (GRE) vs Chelsea (ENG)

LIVERPOOL (ENG) vs Inter Milan (ITA)

Schalke 04 (GER) vs FC Porto (POR)

Roma (ITA) vs Real Madrid (ESP)

Arsenal (ENG) vs AC Milan (ITA)

Celtic (SCO) vs Barcelona (ESP)

O. Lyon (FRA) vs Man Utd (ENG)

Fenerbahce (TUR) vs Sevilla (ESP)

Honestly, a tough draw for the Reds. Inter Milan is probably the best team in Europe currently in terms of form and they have been imperious throughout this season's campaign. The Reds started off pretty well in early part of their domestic campaign but suffered a patchy period which coincided with their terrible results in the Champions League.

Inter is no doubt one of the teams to avoid yet we know what Liverpool could do to the so called 'favourites' in almost all their European pilgrims, including Barcelona last season and Juventus on the way to the 2005 Champions League final.

When it comes to Liverpool and their European ambition, no matter how much better you are in terms of personnel or form, they'll always manage to put up a fight that at times, caught the 'bigger' opponents by surprise.

As we know, Liverpool are the expert in one-off games and the first game will only take place in February. From now till then, many things could happen as we know. There might be a slump in form or a surge. New players might come in during the January transfer window and change the fortune of the team.

It's not an insurmountable task for Liverpool yet it does seemed like it takes more than a 'wonderful Anfield night' to conquer the champions of Italy. It's up to Rafa and his boys to show us what they're capable of.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Great Escape Completed

Reds Blitz OM To Squeeze Through Into Knockout Round

UEFA Champions League

O. Marseille 0 - 4 LIVERPOOL

LIV - Gerrard (4), Torres (11), Kuyt (48), Babel (90);


"When you walk through the storm, hold your head up high".

And indeed, as the Liverpool anthem rung within the Stade Velodrome, the scouse never-say-die attitude was epitomised in an inspiring way as Liverpool cruise to a comfrotable 4-0 win.

The first three games in the group stages were potential banana skin and despite being favourites to go clear off the group, Liverpool slipped and only till last night did they book a place in the last 16.

Pressure was mounting on the players as well as on manager, Rafa Benitez, prior to the game as the very result of this game will surely affect the mood of the impending meeting with club director, Tom Hicks. Only fresh from their first defeat of their campaign at Reading, Liverpool knew much was at stake.

The hostile crowd in Marseille was all but ready to welcome Liverpool and extinguish that little glimmer of hope that is still with the visitors. But the Reds treated this game as if they were ready for a cup final, just as Rafa said in his pre-game interview.

Even Harry Kewell turned up!

Nevertheless, the tension and breathlessness were eased as early as the 4th minute, and the rest as said, were history. Liverpool dominated Marseille from start to end and gave them absolutely nothing to scrap for.

The Marseille defence were battered and bruised by the powerful run of Steven Gerrard and turned inside out by the wonderful Fernando Torres. This is the sort of performance that underlines the mental strength and quality of this team that Rafa had built over his 3 year reign.

Liverpool could've bottled it big time, cower under fear and probably lose it under intense pressure. But they were cool and composed, though nerves were only rested when Gerrard tucked in the rebound after missing the penalty.

The early goal gave Liverpool a much needed boost of confidence, a spring in their step. Looking a little intimidated right from the first whistle, conceding possession 3 seconds into the match, they then went on a romp and secure a place in where they really belong.

It was a typical 'European' performance from the Reds all in all. Professional, clincal and no-nonsense. It was like an exorcism for that spectre of the improbable lost to the same in at Anfield, same as they did to Besiktas. It was a test of mental strength and character.

Liverpool surely did pass it with flying colours.

The signing of Torres was a signal of intent that the Reds are ready to mount a serious challenge in whichever competition they're in and he, once again, showed why he's worth ever penny that Tom Hicks and George Gillett had invested in.

His pace, his guile, his body balance and that sudden burst of speed. He looked class above all the strikers that we had for years. Coming nearest would probably be Saint Michael Owen. Though still too early to compare him to Kenny Dalglish, 12 goals in 19 games speaks volume.

He was graceful yet powerful at the same time. To be honest, most of us would've run out of speculative for the Spanish striker if he keeps his red hot form for the rest of the season.

The industrious Dirk Kuyt then added a third with a deserved goal before super-sub, Ryan Babel, puts the icing on the cake. It was a goal of high calibre and one that should have had the public gushing over if only it was the winning goal rather than just one of the four.

Mascherano was prominent in every part of the field whenever a Blue and Orange was on the ball. Harry Kewell looked lively and we certainly missed some of his creativity and ball control down the left flank. Yossi Benayoun pulls defender all over the place while diligently helping out Alvaro Arbeloa in defence.

Ryan Babel too, had a field day and his pace and power was too much for the tired legs of Marseille.

Much strength of character was needed for this game and it was evident that this Liverpool team really isn't any sort of pushovers. We all love the underdogs and this time round, the Reds have yet again did a turnaround when things doesn't go their way.

How did they ended up in such a dire strait at first is a mystery but now we know what to expect from this lot. Man Utd up next and they know they need to deliver once again.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

'Royally Defeated'

Referee Inconsistency Mars An Otherwise Well-Deserved Victory For Reading

English Premiership

Reading 3 - 1 LIVERPOOL

REA - Hunt (pen 17), Doyle (60), Harper (67);
LIV - Gerrard (28);

All good things come to an end, as they say. A crucial week was coming right up for Rafa Benitez and his men as they set out to ensure Liverpool's qualification in the Champions League as well as the Premiership race, with rivals, Man Utd, paying a visit.

But how bad of a start to this crucial week with an appalling 3-1 defeat to a spirited Reading side, which hasn't done as well as they did last season when they appeared as the dark horses.

Truly, their never-say-die attitude, organisation, hardwork, grittiness and the little slices of luck here and there was enough to overcome the giants of the North-west. Liverpool and Arsenal are the only two remaining teams in the entire English football league that have yet to lose a game and now it seemed like Arsenal will hold the honour of being unbeaten, probably throughout 2007 part of the season.

Prior to the game, Liverpool was in their imperious form and the 15 games unbeaten streak is never seen before, record breaking for even the prestigious club. Goals were flying in around from everywhere on the pitch and some statisticians might even lose count on the number of goals scored in the past 4 weeks or so.

Yet how Liverpool looked so impotent yesterday, it was pure baffling. Many questions will be asked as usual as to why Rafa started with the strike trio of Torres, Crouch and Voronin and yet looked so toothless upfront. Or how he had a 'captain-go-round' when they are 3-1 down. The captain's armband changed hands thrice in a single match.

Seemed like a pre-season friendly attitude to me.

With Carragher a card away from being suspended for the United game, speculation had been rife all week about him possibly being replaced by Jack Hobbs in the middle of the defence, partnering Sami Hyypia. Yet he found himself starting the game, partly partnering and partly guiding the young Hobbs.

Starting Jack Hobbs is always going to be a pricey risk to play for Benitez yet itwas Carragher himself who gave Reading the much-needed headstart with a rash challenge on Bryjnar Gunnarsson.

Replays shows that the contact was outside the box but the man on the spotlight, Andy Marriner pointed to the spot after consulting his linesman. One of the many controversial decisions he had to make in the game and in favour of Reading.

Stephen Hunt kept his cool and gave Reading the lead and it definitely opened the game up.

Liverpool's direct approach to the game caused the home side much problem especially with Fernando Torres in red hot form and Steven Gerrard scoring for fun. With Crouch and Voronin to aim at, the visitors were contented to lump it forward and pray that it drops for one of them.

In a fortunate manner, or more like a defensive error from Graeme Murty means that Torres was able to steal in from behind and put the ball under his control. The Spanish striker found Gerrard on his rampaging run and the skipper made no mistake from 8 yards out.

In typical Gerrard fashion, he drove right through the heart of Reading defence.

But Liverpool huffed and puffed, struggled to find the breakthrough. Andiry Voronin drifted in and out of the game and Peter Crouch was anonymous upfront. Momo Sissoko finally appeared for his league start and yet again, didn't impress his critics with careless passing and a little clumsiness at times.

Liverpool then had a stonewall penalty turned down after Torres was obviously tripped by Ibrahima Sonko in the box but Marriner is never going to give away penalty that easily anymore.

The tide turned against Liverpool in an instance and the away side found themselves behind once again. Reckless Gerrard brought down the industrious Stephen Hunt and Reading scored from the resulting in-swinging freekick. Kevin Dolye had the slightest of touch and it zoomed past Pepe Reina.

Then the Madejski stadium was in pandemonium after James Harper nailed the final nail in Liverpool's coffin with a fine counter attack move. He got behind the half asleep defence before rounding Reina, giving Reading an unlikely yet well-deserved win.

It's a fairy tale result for Reading yet utter nightmare for Rafa and his men. Decisions were going against the away side far too often and it really got in the skin of the players and staff alike.

Yet Liverpool's defeat cannot be faulted totally on poor refereeing but some bizarre decisions from Benitez and also, an overall listless display from the Reds, as if already jittery about the visit to Marseille and Man Utd.

With the American owners ready to talk to Rafa about his future plans, this is just not the right result to hand over to them. It is a truly shambolic result in truth and how we all didn't expect this good league start to end in such a terrible way.

Liverpool will need to pick themselves up for the next few games because with their heads down, they won't achieve much.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kop Roars As Reds Keep Dream Alive

15 Goals For, 1 Against In Last 3 Games

UEFA Champions League

LIVERPOOL 4 - 1 FC Porto

LIV - Torres (19, 78), Gerrard (83), Crouch (87);
POR - Lopez (33);

Stormy clouds were gathering fast over the skies of Merseyside as Rafael Benitez's relations with the US owners was thought to have been broken down. It was continued to be stirred relentlessly despite the comfortable 3-0 win over Newcastle over the weekends.

But in typical Scouser fashion, Liverpool fans showed unity in strength and the willingness to overcome the odds as they sang at their top of their voices in support of their 'beleaguered' manager.

They're not willing to let slip a legend in the making.

Problems didn't stop there, really. After investing heavily in the summer, it would be a nightmare not to get into the knockout phases of the Champions League. But for the past few weeks, the nightmare was almost turning into a reality.

Whether is it doing it the hard way all the time or not, Liverpool showed enough persistency and doggedness to get their result last night against Porto. A must win game at Anfield sounds easy enough for the Reds but Porto was a test of character.

The Kop faithfuls were singing Rafa Benitez's name throughout, even prior to the game when hordes of Scousers congregated outside Anfield to give Rafa a vote of confidence. But it was another Spaniard who took centre stage and ultimately lifted a huge volume of pressure from the shoulders of Benitez.

A big money transfer from Atletico Madrid last summer, he was purchased with the expenditure provided by the US owners, Hicks and Gillett. But ultimately, Rafa believed and trusted in his ability to get goals for the club.

And he did just that.

It justified Benitez's transfer policy and it sounded as clear as an alarm to the owners that they need to put faith in someone who understands football more than they do. They opened the checkbook but Rafa picked him.

Fernando Torres grabbed a brace as Liverpool put 4 goals past Porto in a somewhat flattering manner. It was end to end stuff at times and both teams, especially the home side, looked stretched as the game went on in a break-neck tempo.

He put the Reds ahead in the 18th minute with a header from Steven Gerrard's corner kick. Dreadful defending from Porto allowed the Spanish marksman to evade the defence and planted the ball past Helton.

The great escape is alive and truly kicking.

But Liverpool took their foot off the pedal in spectacular fashion and was utterly punished, yet totally against the run of play. Despite dominating possession, the Reds didn't threaten and Porto scored from their first attempt on goal in an incisive move.

Kaz (his name is too long and difficult to be spelt) whipped in a cross after he muscled Mascherano off the ball and Porto top scorer, Lisando Lopez, got the better of Alvaro Arbeloa as he launched an acorbatic header which gave Porto the equaliser.

And Liverpool panicked. It was apparent that the goal took them by surprise and indeed, they looked shell-shocked.

For the next 15 minutes after the Porto goal, the Portugese giants took hold of the game and launched waves and waves of attack on Pepe Reina's goal. Close shaves and edge-of-your-seat moments abound and suddenly, the Liverpool fans were taken aback as to what is happening right in front of their eyes.

A draw would be the end of their Champions League campaign. It would also pile pressure on Benitez, with his job already seemingly under serious threat.

And it just didn't looked like it was their day. For the next half an hour, Liverpool toiled and found no rewards. Voronin was quiet, Benayoun off-colour and Babel disappointing. Only Torres looked threatening.

Passes were misplaced and tension was apparent. Anxiety gets the better of the players at times and frustrations led to the disappearance of composure.

Then came the turning point of the game. Rafa Benitez decided enough is enough for the trio of under-performers for this game. On came the much maligned Harry Kewell and the under-utilised Peter Crouch.

Both gave the Reds an extra option up front and no, it's not really the aerial prowess of Crouch. It was the way they held up the ball and controlled it in the spaces so tight that Harry Houdini would have problem getting out.

And it was Kewell who provided the ammunition for Torres to find the net, albeit it was a lucky one. Yet, take nothing away from the wonderful finish of the Spanish striker, as he curled it past Helton and the acrobatic defender on the line.

Anfield was in raptures. I myself jumped out of my seat with my fist pumping in the air. Just the goal we need!

Then just like how most Liverpool game goes this season, it triggered a landslide thereafter. Milan Stepanovs handled the ball under pressure from Hyypia and up-stepped Steven Gerrard to score and equal Michael Owen's European goal record.

Michael who?

Icing was on the cake finally when Gerrard's corner kick once again caught the Porto defence cold. Crouch headed the ball into an empty net after Helton decided to go for a walkabout.

Half the job is done at Anfield but Rafa's men know that what matters the most now is the result at Velodrome the next time round. A must-win game not only for Liverpool, but also the French giants, Marseille. All teams still stand a chance to qualify at this stage. What an intriguing outcome it will be!

Huge pressure lifted off the stands of Anfield and with the 90 minutes of constant singing, Rafa was pleased enough and acknowledges the fan's support. His post match interview was a heart-warming and positive one, in comparison to the one he had on Saturday.

An overwhelming win which didn't truly reflect the real complexion of the game. Yet the class of the Reds prevailed till the end.

Latest: New Stadium loan secured

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Drogballs' Plea To Reds Fans

If you're in favour of supporting Rafa Benitez our manager and have full confidence in his ability and his plans for the future, please sign the following petition.

We have fell short for so many years and this man led us to finals after finals each passing years. Premiership might still elude us but we are really in the mood this season so my plea is that the storm will die down, owners will put their faith in Rafa and we might have a bigger chance if there isn't any off-field squabbles.

I'm not saying that it's not entirely wrong on Rafa's part for sounding like a petulant kid at times but it's not time to wreck the ship again when the ship finally looks steadied and ready to sail at full speed.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Goals Video!

English Premiership

Newcastle 0 - 3 LIVERPOOL

LIV - Gerrard, Kuyt, Babel

1-0 Gerrard:

2-0: Kuyt

3-0: Babel

Friday, November 23, 2007

Why & Where Did England Fail

Before you turn away from this page following the rather generic title up there (yea, I mean above this), I would encourage you to read on because it isn't generic and won't be the same old shite you read on The Sun or The Daily Mail.

England failed to qualify. I think the dust have yet to settle and it's still quite a choas over at Blighty. A mention of Wayne Bridge or Steve McClaren might incur an almighty wrath of any male on the street.

So I'll cheer you up by joining you at laughing at the lot of them.

McClaren failed. He was sacked.

Brian Barwick failed. He appointed that failure.

Steven Gerrard and John Terry failed. They didn't lead the team by example.

Wayne Bridge actually didn't do too badly in being rubbish.....

The Wembley pitch was utter disgrace. Like a woman spending thousands of dollars on plastic surgery (fake boobs, etc) yet with a face of Marilyn Manson. To quote Silvan Bilic, it's the 'most expensive plowed field he's ever seen.

But the following is the funniest yet:

'The British singer who sang the Croatian anthem before last night's match accidentally sang 'My penis is a mountain'.

Tony Henry was trying to sing the national anthem in Croatian, but reportedly got the words wrong...The line in which Henry slipped up should have been "mila kuda si planina" (You know my dear how we love your mountains). But what he actually sang was "mila kura si planina" which means "Dear Penis, you are a Mountain" or "My Dear, my penis is a mountain".' - Ananova

Even the opera singer was rubbish..... Oh dear...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

*Latest - McClaren Axed

The English FA have decided to sack Steve McClaren after an abysmal Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. Decision was made after an emergency meeting between the FA executives and it is reported that McClaren will get a massive payout of 2.5million GBP.

Despite his insistence on staying on the job, the FA clearly have no more patience as they saw the Euro qualifiers turned out to be a national catastrophe. McClaren is now officially the shortest serving manager of the English national team.

Insights: How the meeting went

Barwick: Morning lads, so are we sacking that grinning ginge?
The Rest: Yes, boss.
Barwick: Alright, meeting over.

Right from the start, I've never believed that McClaren is the one to take England to the next level. I mentioned that it's no point killing the weed without exterminating the root. They sacked Sven but kept his assistant (which is him) on and appointed him the head coach.

Hindsight is always a blessing and we can all talk about his shortcomings and mistakes he made. Ultimately he'll go down into England's annals of shame, the one who saw their fall from grace.

No England At Euro 2008

Despite Israel's Help, McClaren's Men Stumbled At Crucial Time

Euro 2008 Qualifier

England 2 - 3 Croatia


ENG - Lampard (pen 51), Crouch (65);

CRO - Krancjar (8), Olic (14), Petric (77);

With an imminent death sentence delayed, glimmers of hope filled the hearts of the Englishmen after seeing Russia haphazardly lost to Israel on Saturday. The supposed inevitable was avoided in much of a fortunate manner seemingly...

But England's chance of qualifying for next summer's European Championship was finally guillotined in front of their home fans after an abject 3-2 lost to Croatia, who will be heading over to Austria/Switzerland as the group leader.

The cold winter rain fell on the muddled heads of the English players as a packed Wembley watched in horror. Chanting like a mantra prior to the match, players came out to say that they'll go on for the kill and secure qualification.

But with a 4-5-1 formation set out, who truly believes they're not playing for a draw?

The disastrous 2-0 defeat in Croatia months ago still seemed to be a spectre, haunting the English players and just as Paul Robinson comically 'air-kicked' a Gary Neville backpass, Scott Carson continued the tradition of England's 'goalkeeping-killing act'.

With the freezing rain all over the sticky Wembley pitch, it adds an extra tilt to the game. For a 22 year old Carson, what a night to make his competitive debut for England. It took Croatia only 8 minutes to found him out sadly.

Confidence bruised and broken, his back line didn't do him any good either. Minutes later, a two-men breakaway was enough to find the chink in England's defence. Arsenal's Eduardo drew the entire defence to him before making a defence splitting pass for the magnificent Ivica Olic to round Carson and send shock wave across the nation.

Hopes seemed lost and difficult words must have been exchanged in dressing room during half time. 'Nothing to lose now' was on McClaren's mind when he sent on Defoe and Beckham on for a disappointing Shaun Wright-Phillips and the out-of-place Gareth Barry.

It surely was a gamble. But it has been a gamble all along.

England did find their way back early in the second half through a magnanimous penalty after substitute Jermaine Defoe was adjudged to have his shirt pulled inside the area. Up step Frank Lampard and the Chelsea man made no mistake.

Beckham then proved his point when he assisted Peter Crouch in scoring the all important equaliser, just enough to send England through to the finals. Crouch controlled the ball with his chest brilliantly before slotting it past Stipe Pletikosa.

He turned out to be one of the few players whom escaped with any sort of credits and he deserved the goal to be fair.

But England's fate was penultimately sealed late in the game when substitute Petric hit a fearsome shot with his left and it whizzed past the diving Scott Carson. Croatia's never-say-die attitude epitomised.

They gave so much when so little mattered. Probably riled after the moronic England fans jeered their national anthem, the Croatians brought the English nation to the ground, in shame. Past glory was all that it is and now the bare truth is staring right in the face of McClaren, his players and the FA.

The cleverness and deft movement of the Croatian outsmarted the English, who are all about blood and thunder. Traditionally a team that plays at break-neck speed, England players doesn't possess the required technical abilities and brains to execute it.

All we saw was the old route one football of Wimbledon back in the early 90s. Aimless 40 yard balls or lumping balls towards Peter Crouch. There was no flair and there was no guile. Blood and thunder couldn't get them any further.

Failure to qualify this time could also be a good news to many England fans as now it is a possibility that the English FA will have a long hard look on the organisation structure and address the obvious flaws that had been on cover since God-knows when.

McClaren might have his brolly to shield the rain from him but it wouldn't be able to withstand the flak he's going to get from the English media and public. It might not be his fault totally but much responsibility must be shouldered by the grinning one.

Expect him to be sacked in an hours time.

England Player Ratings:

Carson (4/10) - You thought Robinson was bad....Like a rabbit caught in the headlight

Bridge (2) - Shambolic. One of the worst performance I've EVER seen
Lescott (4) - Was all over the place yet not found when needed
Campbell (5) - Didn't marshal his defence well at all
Richards (4) - All running but with no effect. Poor positioning sense

Cole (4) - Plenty of trickery as usual but no guile and no thrust. 'Owned' by Corluka
Gerrard (4) - Hollywood balls and all, the captain did nothing inspiring...Poor
Lampard (5) - Didn't notice him until stepping up for the penalty. Credit for not bottling it
Barry (3) - Fish out of the water. Found out. Passing was abysmal and fail to offer protection to defence.
Wright-Phillips (4) - Running head-on like a headless chicken. Poor delivery and finishing.

Crouch (7) - Only player to walk off Wembley with head held high. Scored a good goal and worked extremely hard. And to think he was boo-ed by the England supporters a year ago...

Beckham (7) - With him on, there is no lack of energy and commitment.
Defoe (5) - Didn't threaten the Croatian defence other than the penalty incident
Bent (5) - Should have taken the half chance

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ronaldo's Back....

Seriously, Diego. Is that you?

By the way, Zidane was involved in the match as well.
At least he still looks like a proper footballer!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Memoirs Of A Liverpool Fan

Came across this article and it's really worth a read, though a little lengthy.

50 Hell’s angels, February 26, 2002
There was plenty of apprehension for any British fans going to Istanbul in the early years of this decade. After all, two Leeds United fans were stabbed to death in 2000 before playing Galatasaray and the locals’ ‘Welcome to Hell’ banners had sent shivers down Manchester United spines. However, Liverpool’s visit to Gala in the second Champions League group was different. The visiting fans’ approach was summed up with a banner; “Welcome to hell my arse. If you think this is hell, try the Grafton on a Friday night.”

The Grafton is a nightclub, famous for ‘grab-a-granny’ nights, where innocent young scallies find themselves at the mercy of predatory Liverpool divorcees. But the attitude was perfect: no fear, no aggressive confrontation and a slice of humour. It sums up the best attributes of the modern Liverpool fan. And, since then, every time the Reds have played in Istanbul, the local supporters have joined their party. And this is the essence of this list. The culture of football is about more than players and managers – in ten years, most of them will have moved on. It exists and grows through the supporters as much as the team.

24 Liverpool 1 Real Madrid 0, European Cup final, May 27, 1981, Paris
To really play with the big boys, you need at least three European Cups. After all, small clubs can win two – Nottingham Forest, FC Porto, Manchester United. This was the hat-trick in the Parc des Princes, against one of those big boys. Alan Kennedy completed the job with a late goal at a time when no team in Europe relished playing Liverpool.

3 Half-time, Liverpool v AC Milan, European Cup final, Istanbul, May 25, 2005
“That’s it. Game over,” Andy Gray said, unable to keep the tone of satisfaction out of his voice. Of course, no one in the Ataturk could hear the television commentary but, at 3-0 down as the break loomed, Liverpool looked beaten. Then, with the players trooped down the tunnel, someone started singing You’ll Never Walk Alone. It started hesitantly, with an undertone of anger, but suddenly turned into the ultimate assertion of culture and belief. When it finished, the tension had lifted and the 40,000 Liverpool fans were no longer broken and defeated, even if the team was. Did this act of faith inspire the subsequent comeback from the team? If it didn’t, they don’t have a shred of soul between them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Star Men Earned Reds Victory

English Premiership

LIVERPOOL 2 - 0 Fulham

LIV - Torres (81min), Gerrard (pen 85min);

A late show from the deadly duo of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard gave Liverpool a hard fought 2-0 win at Anfield. They struck in the final 10 minutes of the game and secured all 3 points just when the home side thought it was not going to be their day.

The match was a stark contrast to that 8-0 demolition of Besiktas in the midweek Champions League game as Liverpool found it difficult to break down a resilient and organised Fulham side.

This game, once again, epitomises Fulham's Achilles heels, which is the final 10 minutes of the game when players tire out and loses concentration. A shocking statistic showed that if a Premiership game would last only 45 minutes, the London side would've been on top of the league.

Their current league position tells the story, really.

Rafa Benitez, perhaps listening to his 'rotation' critics, named an unchanged side, to the surprise of many including the fans. Yet in this game, Liverpool struggled to keep up the tempo of the game and didn't look as fluid as they did on Wednesday.

For 80 minutes, Liverpool laboured and found it extremely frustrating, trying to break down the wall that Fulham had put to mitigate them yet it was the class of Fernando Torres and the composure of Steven Gerrard that ultimately breached the defence of Fulham.

Coming on as a substitute for the ineffectual Andriy Voronin, Torres latched onto a clearance from goalkeeper, Pepe Reina, before putting the ball past Antti Niemi, something which Liverpool struggled to do for the whole game.

The goal frame did deny Liverpool a chance to go ahead though. Peter Crouch headed a Fabio Aurelio freekick onto the crossbar just before half time while Sami Hyypia and Yossi Benayoun forced Niemi to pull off some decent saves.

The goal gave Liverpool belief and relieved the pressure and tension that was building up around the Kop End.

As Liverpool upped their tempo, they began to impose themselves more and as fortune favours the brave, they were awarded a penalty for a foul which looked to be outside the box. Carlos Bocanegra was adjudged to have clipped Peter Crouch on his heels and referee pointed to the spot straight away.

With several penalties missed against London sides, Gerrard didn't let past experience haunt him and he sent Niemi the wrong way, planted the ball into the right bottom corner of the net.

The Kop was in full voice and the elation of the fans were apparent.

A game which summed up pretty much about the gulf of quality between the clubs, which without a doubt, exist in the Premiership. Yet for Fulham to hung on for 80 minutes against a rampant Liverpool side, they must be given some credit.

But what is the point of playing well for 80 and then lose it all in the final 10? This is when the difference in quality comes in.

Fernando Torres came to Liverpool as a scorer and yesterday, we could say he did his job. He came on, he made an impact and all three points in the bag. It was the quality that oozes out of the 23 year old that really impresses everyone, his maturity and his adaptiveness to the hustle and bustle of the Premiership is admirable.

His finishing was clinical and his movement supreme. His pace gave Liverpool something more, an extra cutting edge. Credits should go to him, remembering that he just came back from an injury.

Like a heavy weight boxing match, it wasn't, at times, the best match to watch as chances are at premium. Yet when Liverpool smash the final blow, it was just enough to finish the opponents off.

It was a fairly equal match but as we know, it only takes a second to score and a quality player like Torres is all that is needed to turn a game around.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

So Big A Win, I Don't Quite Know Where To Start

The LED Ain't Broken, Mind You

*takes in deep breath*

LIV - Crouch (19, 89), Benayoun (32, 53, 56), Gerrard (69), Babel (78, 81);

Liverpool broke the Champions League record by scoring a mind-blowing 8 goals past Besiktas, the very team that defeated the Reds just only 2 weeks ago in Istanbul. The victory definitely painted a very different pictures depending on how you see things.

The Besiktas we saw was SO bad that I've absolutely no idea how did we 'managed' to lose to these bunch, so convincingly, in the last round.

But we all know at the way we play in recent weeks, I shall quote Russell Peters and say 'somebody's gonna get hurt REAL bad!'. We played okay and created enough chance but just not putting them into the net.

Liverpool kicked off the game knowing that the European nights in Anfield are numbered because the Liverpool City Council has given a go-ahead for their new stadium and what a way to commemorate the milestone, with a record win.

After a cagey start, Liverpool started to gather momentum and Yossi Benayoun seemingly, at the thick of action most of the time. A sign of a great performance, perhaps?

Through some serendipity and luck, Liverpool got the opening goal, one the relieves the tension and pressure of the players and the fans heaved a collective sigh of relief. Peter Crouch went through and though his initial shot was blocked, he was able to follow up and the out-of-favour striker finally found his scoring touch again.

Yossi Benayoun added a second with a highly controversial build-up to the goal but take nothing away from that finish. It was dead accurate, leaving Hakan Arikan with no chance. Well, he didn't have much for the entire 90, did he?

Flood gates opened and Liverpool relentlessly pounded Besiktas and all was over when Benayoun added a second after half time. Besiktas' players head dropped and looking like a caged animal, trapped and no way out.

Benayoun got what he fully deserved with a simplest of hat trick and Gerrard scored from probably the move of the game, combining excellently with Andiry Voronin before Ryan Babel coming on to make some major impact.

Two goals from the Dutch forward and both weren't conventional goals you'll see in a match. A brilliant Henry-esque back heel goal and also his determination allowed him to pressure Toraman into hitting the ball straight into his back and very fortunately, beyond Arikan's reach.

Crouch rounded things up with a 'rare' headed goal after a brilliant cross from who else but Yossi Benayoun and it indeed, concluded a night of massacre of the highest order.

Besiktas was frankly 'pants' and clueless most of the time but to smash 8 goals past a professional team is no mean feat. Credits to where it is due and although I've been critical on Liverpool for the past however long it is, I must say 'what a performance'!

Plenty still to do though. Porto win means we really need to win the remaining two games while Rafa will have to work a way as to how to bring this form back to the Premiership this weekend.And the man of the moment, Yossi Benayoun. A hat trick and two assists. He was the hero and played a vital and pivotal role to Liverpool's biggest Champions League win. What a performance. That'll certainly keep Pennant out for the side (despite his injury) for quite some time.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Silly Medic

Have a laugh :D

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Wasteful Reds Held

English Premiership

Blackburn 0 - 0 LIVERPOOL

Liverpool's unbeaten run this season continues as they were held to a dull nil-nil draw by Blackburn Rovers. But the visiting Reds will surely be disappointed by the outcome as well as the overall performance as they huffed and puffed their way through.

There was a apparent lack of urgency from the away side and only started to pound on the Blackburn goal in the last 10 minutes of the game, especially when Rafa Benitez decided to throw on the out-of-favour Peter Crouch and the injury-proned Harry Kewell.

Given the nickname as a 'cup final' player, Kewell came on to make an impact but still looked a long way from full match fitness.

Crouch, too, came on and nearly gave an undeserving lead after connecting well with Steven Gerrard's corner but it was cleared off the line.

Despite impressing in his previous outing against Arsenal, Dirk Kuyt was preferred by Benitez to play upfront on his own and it took only a glance to tell that Kuyt was ineffective as a one man strike force.

He couldn't be blamed for much of the game as the Liverpool midfield were stifled by an organised and tenacious Blackburn team and it is of common knowledge that Liverpool lacked the spark and creative force within. There was no movement and the passing was appalling at times.

Yet when presented with chances, Dirk Kuyt fluffed it all and Liverpool will travel back to Anfield with only a point. A hard fought one indeed. As a striker at the top level, he is expected to take the chance and put Blackburn to the knife for their carelessness but as we all know, he isn't the best finisher out there.

As a striker, he is supposed to score goals but apparently, not being the 'sharpest knife in the drawer', he skied one of the best chance Liverpool had in the entire game and two others.

I personally admire his never-say-die attitude, desire, determination and mental strength but when the 'knife meets the butter', he's expected to cut it but as profligate as Liverpool had been for the past month or so, he didn't help the situation.

Especially when Torres is out with an injury and Crouch out of favour.

But to be fair, Liverpool didn't deserve to win this game as Blackburn, too, had their fair share of chances and came closer to scoring than the visiting team. Both David Dunn and David Bentley skinned the Liverpool defence and were unlucky not to score as both their shots found the frameworks instead.

As one of the 'Top 4' of England, it's apparent that Liverpool doesn't seemed to be on the same level as the other 3 teams in Chelsea, Arsenal and ManYoo as they possessed a balance team with a couple of players capable of changing the game just with a moment of magic.

Arsenal is a joy to watch and they have shrugged off their impotency and exchanged it with sharpness and maturity while ManYoo grew from strength to strength. Chelsea moved on from Jose's era and are steadily improving.

While Liverpool at times, looked like 11 strangers, clueless on the pitch and even with a tactics set by Benitez, there was no shape and players don't make runs and create space for each other, making life difficult for every players.

There were times when I thought I was watching England but at least we could control possessions better.

Though we know that Ewood Park is a tough place to visit, it is no excuse that they are there for the taking and that as a club contending for the Premiership, we ought to start to play well and get the right results. Continuing with this form is only going to make us fall backwards from the pack.

It already looked as if we're falling further away in terms of quality and that many believe that players like Kuyt, Crouch, Sissoko or Riise won't get us anywhere near the Premiership crown and it is true in some way.

But I believe Rafa has bought himself plenty of time, contrary to the tabloid reports about his job on the line, and he is capable of turning things round. But maybe he just needs to learn his lesson and stop being so stubborn and sticking to his own principles and guidelines.

Rotation or whatever the ideology is, it might work in the La Liga which he won the title, it might not happen in the Premiership.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Riise's Pay Slip

In case you haven't seen it...

I hope it's not against the law!

Carling Cup

LIVERPOOL 2 - 1 Cardiff

No match report because... it wasn't anywhere on TV. Pity, because it was the return of Robbie Fowler. Anyway, Liverpool squeezed through to the quarter finals of the Carling Cup after Steven Gerrard provided the winner.

Youngster from Morocco, Nabil El Zhar scored a cracker earlier on before Darren Purse shocking the home side with an equaliser.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reds Held By Gunners

Showdown Of The Midfield Maestros

English Premiership

LIVERPOOL 1 - 1 Arsenal

LIV - Gerrard (7 min);
ARS - Fabregas (80min);

10 minutes was all Liverpool needed to hold on for a probably undeserved victory over rivals, Arsenal but man of the moment, Cesch Fabregas, broke the hearts of the Anfield faithfuls after scoring a rather cheeky goal in the 80th minute to level things up after Steven Gerrard fired Liverpool ahead with a powerful driven freekick early in the game.

The 400th appearance from the Liverpool skipper was a milestone on it's own and to score on it makes it even more special for the born and bred Scouser.

But another midfield maestro from Spain took centre stage of the show with his 10th goal of the season in all competition, a wonderful statistic that doesn't really flatter the quality of this young talismanic midfielder, who has been the heartbeat of Arsenal since the departure of Thierry Henry.

The Arsenal playmaker has been in scintillating form this season and looked beyond his age, performing with apparent maturity.

While Gerrard has been caught in the cross fire of fans and the media after several disappointing performances and hasn't been at his best for both Liverpool and England for quite some time.

But he silenced his critics with a decent performance in the middle of the park but Rafa Benitez seemed to be unable to shrug off the recent criticisms of his rotation policy and the handling of players. Well, that's the sort of thing you get when things ain't going right.

Both teams met at Anfield with mixed fortunes in their previous games. Arsenal were in a marvelous run of 12 straight victories in the Premiership while thrashing Slavia Prague 7-0 in the Champions League match.

While Liverpool, although still unbeaten in the Premiership, was utterly embarrassed in this year's Champions League with no wins on hand and a shameful 2-1 defeat away to Besiktas.

Putting on his tinkering hat, Rafa Benitez welcomed back Fernando Torres and also Xabi Alonso, whose presence was very much missed. Rafa started with a supposed 3 pronged attack of Kuyt, Voronin and Torres and the trio of Gerrard, Mascherano and Alonso anchoring the midfield.

Arsenal played safe as well, playing Emmanuel Adebayor on his own upfront and five across midfield.

Game was played in a frenetic pace from the start with Liverpool players closing down Arsenal really well. But that was probably the downfall for the Reds as they their physical conditions went down and exhaustion was apparent after the 70th minute mark.

Rafa gambled with Alonso and Torres but it backfired some way or the other. Both players were withdrawn, with Torres suffering from an ineffective performance upfront on his own and was even substituted by Peter Crouch before half time.

But without the goalscoring threat of Torres, Liverpool still struck and as if it was an inevitable event that Gerrard would take this opportunity to score. Dirk Kuyt managed to break the Arsenal wall and the skipper fired in low and hard, giving Almunia absolutely no chance.

But with the injury of Alonso, Liverpool seemingly lost control of the midfield and with the likes of Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner coming on, the away side gained the upper hand and had a couple of near misses which could've punished Liverpool.

But due to some poor finishing, the score remained the same until Cesc Fabregas weaved his magic, latching onto Alex Hleb's pass and cheekily toe-poked it past a stranded Pepe Reina, who would've been disappointed with the goal.

A fair result all round and you could probably say Arsenal deserved the point more than Liverpool as they showed more intent and fared better. Despite leading 1-0 in the first half, the home side resorted to long punts upfield and Torres was struggling by himself.

While Arsenal's movement and passing constantly threatened Liverpool and barely did Carragher and his defence hung on.

An entertaining game with points shared between the two English giants. What effect does it have on the league is still yet to be seen but it certainly gives ManYoo a boost for their upcoming game against the Gunners themselves.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Red's Champions League Shambles

3 Games Without A Win In Current Campaign

UEFA Champions League

Besiktas 2 - 1 LIVERPOOL

BES - Hyypia (og 13min), Bobo (82min);
LIV - Gerrard (84min);

In a group which consists of Besiktas, Marseille and Porto, 5 times winner Liverpool should probably have no problem going through and qualify for the knock out round. Anything less could be a nightmare.

But just last night, the nightmare turned into reality and their hopes of advancing into the knockout phase is hanging on a thread.

It could've been the same mentality that I had on my opening line that explains ineptitude and abject performances for the past 3 games. Probably Rafa and his Reds underestimated their opponents?

Nevertheless, after having to force myself to sit through the entire 90 minutes, I have to be honest. It's shameful. It's utterly embarrassing. What has became of the Reds? We're often monikered as a 'good cup team' and now we can't even qualify for the knockout phase.

In front of a fanatic Turkish crowd, Liverpool huffed and puffed their way through and they totally deserved what they got. Saturday's derby was already a wake up call and nobody heeded it. Without Mark Clattenburg, it was always going to be difficult.

Though Liverpool started off decently with Ryan Babel and Andriy Voronin going close, the passing was horrendous especially in the central midfield area while Dirk Kuyt looked especially isolated upfront.

The horror show continues when Sami Hyypia scored his second consecutive own goal in a week following the derby victory.

The own goal just epitomizes Liverpool's downfall this season as the miser and ungenerous defence of past seasons were found wanting. Bobo broke through the line and although Jamie Carragher expertly executed a sliding tackle, he panicked and lashes his clearance right into Steve Finnan.

A penalty box scramble ensues and with Liverpool in sixes and sevens, Ozkan mis-hit the shot and seemingly off target but Hyypia, at the wrong place and wrong time, deflected it past a wrong footed Jose Reina.

Utter nightmare for Liverpool. A must win game now turned into an uphill task. Who would've thought that Besiktas, a club that is inferior in every way to Liverpool, could've scored first?

Just when Rafa needed a response from his men, all he got was a hollow silence. Movement was poor and there was a total lack of penetration and the profligacy of Liverpool's forwards were apparent.

Steven Gerrard, berated by the press for his recent poor form, did trouble the Besiktas defence with his usual timed runs into the box but goalkeeper, Hakan Arikan, is always up to the task.

Liverpool then started to show some urgency after the introduction of Israeli playmaker, Yossi Benayoun, and that was when they started to move the ball around more swiftly and accurately. The following 5 minutes after Benayoun's substitution is by far Liverpool's best phase of play.

Being totally impotent upfront, Liverpool defence deceived to flatter as well and warning sirens sounded when Bobo squandered a wonderful chance from a wonderfully engineered Besiktas move.

But the Brazilian striker turned from zero to hero in the next minute after jinking past the seemingly lost Sami Hyypia before slotting the ball under the legs of Reina and into the net. It sent the Turkish fans into raptures!

Although Steven Gerrard once again, headed a goal into the net in Istanbul, it was all too late for Liverpool to rescue anything out of the game. It was a game that the Reds didn't deserve anything out of it.

Were Besiktas anything special? From the way they play, not at all. Is that a cocky comment from me? No as well, because I'm honest. Players struggling to trap ball, goalkeeper who couldn't direct his kick at all and many other flaws.

But what happened to Liverpool? Used to be conquerors of continental football and dispatched team after team, from Barcelona to Chelsea. Now Besiktas looked to be a goliath to them. Where is the confidence and the fear that they used to impose on teams?

A long hard journey ahead for the Reds as we all know. Qualification is theoretically still possible but there are severe problems beneath this defeat. Arsenal is up next and how we're going to cope with a team that has gone on a 12 games unbeaten run and a recent 7-0 route of Slavia Prague?

Rafa needs to do something. We're lucky at the derby. But lady luck can't be with us all the time.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Plucky Liverpool Victor In Derby

Kuyt On The Double From Penalty Spot

English Premiership

Everton 1 - 2 LIVERPOOL

EVE - Hyypia (og 38)
LIV - Kuyt (54, 90)

The 206th Merseyside Derby proved to be not only a hotly contested match but also a game marred with controversial refereeing decisions, talking points and more red cards added into statistics.

Dirk Kuyt kept his cool and slot two penalties past Tim Howard as the red half of Merseyside were sent into raptures and you could just tell how much the victory meant to the players just by looking at their post match celebrations and probably 'p*ss-take' in front of the Goodison faithfuls.

It was a game won by Liverpool but one would feel that a draw would've been a fairer result as referee, Mark Clattenburg, will no doubt be the key figure in the papers in the days to come as he sent off two Everton players and awarded Liverpool with two penalties, a rarity in football.

Others argued that he failed to spot a clear-cut penalty incident just before the full time whistle when Jamie Carragher looked to have wrestled Joleon Lescott to the ground. But probably as they say in football, comes around and goes around.

Liverpool started the game well enough and nearly caught Everton out after Benayoun managed to cut the ball back for Voronin, only for the Ukrainian to scruff the shot straight at Tim Howard.

But Everton hit back and managed to take hold of the game and are exceptionally dangerous when it comes to set pieces. And that exactly was hot Everton managed to crack Liverpool's defence.

Everton's corner was half cleared by the Liverpool and Leon Osman managed to put the ball back into the danger area. Sami Hyypia inexplicably flicked the ball past Reina, in off the post and Everton got the lead.

With Gerrard shafted onto the right flank with Mascherano and Sissoko partnering in the middle, the skipper was given the license to roam. And he made good use of the freedom by rampaging down the heart of Everton and Tony Hibbert was adjudged to have tripped him.

Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot without hesitation but the controversy on what did Gerrard said to the referee as he clearly took out his yellowcard and right after some exchanged words, he changed his mind and took out a red instead.

It was a harsh sending off, considering a penalty was already awarded. Dirk Kuyt took up the responsibility of taking the penalty in an extremely hostile environment and calmly slotted it past Howard for the equaliser.

Liverpool started to take advantage of the extra man and did decently to contain Everton while managing to string a few good moves. There were a few chances which dropped to the strike duo of Kuyt and Voronin but both squandered them.

In a mystifying move, Rafa Benitez then withdrawn skipper, Steven Gerrard, and replaced him with a newbie in Merseyside derbies, Lucas Leiva. That move was quite a surprise, even for Gerrad himself, showing it through his body language.

Considering he was playing pretty well, it was a gamble from Rafa Benitez.

But it paid off ultimately as Lucas himself had a hand on the winning goal. After a goalmouth screamble, his goal bound shot was fantastically saved on the line, albeit it being Phil Neville.

That save must've made the Everton fans proud and Paul Robinson quaking in his boots, fearing for his place as England number 1 (tongue in cheek comment).

The younger of the Neville brothers was duly sent off and Kuyt again, was given the responsibility to bulge the onion bag for Liverpool and it was a monumental moment for the Dutch striker. The outcome of a point or three lies solely in his hands...

And he puts it away, with Howard nearly stopping it. That sealed Liverpool's win and you could see the joy on Carragher and company's face, seeing how much the victory meant for the boys.

It was not without controversy and red cards but it was truly a highly entertaining game, good for the neutrals. The win could probably put Liverpool back on track with Arsenal next, visiting Anfield.

PS: Thank you Liverpool for the birthday present :)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

206th Merseyside Derby Preview

The longest running football derby in England will be the spotlight once again, diverting attention back from the abject performance of the English national team. What a match it will prove to be, considering it is right after the international break.

Both teams have been going through a bit of a rough patch in recent games with Liverpool failing to win the last 3 Premiership games while Liverpool drew 3 of the last 4 games.

It is indeed testing for Rafa Benitez and his men as there are some key players facing late fitness test to prove their fitness for one of the biggest fixture this season. Fernando Torres, Liverpool's top scorer currently, was injured during the international duty and is racing to be fit for the derby.

Many Liverpool fans were in expectant mood to see him playing against their arch rivals but the dream was almost shattered when he reported back to Melwood with a thigh injury. Harry Kewell, although returned to training, is still not ready for a match this proportion.

Meanwhile, Dirk Kuyt is expected to shrug off his hamstring strain and book a place in the squad.Daniel Agger, though, won't be as lucky as he will sit out this game after failing to recover from his foot injury.

Everton will be missing out of form striker, Andy Johnson, but might welcome back their talismanic midfielder, Tim Cahill.

The battle at Goodison Park will be a very intriguing one indeed, considering that Liverpool failed to notch up even a goal against their arch rival last season and to add salt to their wounds, they were trounced 3-0 there last season.

For Rafa's men, there are plenty to play for. Salvaging some pride while regaining the right to boast. It'll no doubt be a feisty encounter with lots of passion added in. The last 10 Merseyside derby reaped a total of 7 red cards and that just tell how easy it is to lose your head in such a game.

Will Rafa's men keep their cool and bounce back from their mini slump? Or will Everton once again embarrass their so called 'bigger' neighbours.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Famous Last Words!

From the BBC's live commentary of Russia v England:

'1628: "This has got draw written all over it, even if they were playing in treacle it would be less scrappy."
anubisrich on 606

'1629: GOAL Russia 0-1 England
Michael Owen heads on Micah Richards' clearance and Wayne Rooney takes it on his chest and volleys it magnificently into the roof of the net. A truly great goal.'

'1720: "I was disappointed with Russia at Wembley and I'm disappointed with them here. They've hardly caused any problems for England." Former England midfielder Chris Waddle on BBC 5live

'1726: GOAL Russia 1-1 England

'1729: GOAL Russia 2-1 England'

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Top Football Misses

Always look on the bright side of life they say. But some of the misses here in the video are so comical that if you're the player yourself, you would wish that the soil of this earth will eat you up and make you disappear.

Have a laugh!

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Non-Existent Goalkeeper

Andrea Pirlo scored an innocuous free kick in the Euro 2008 qualifier against Georgia and it's one of the softest free kick I've seen conceded!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Torres Spares Liverpool Blushes

Last Minute Heart Break For Spurs

English Premiership

LIVERPOOL 2 - 2 Tottenham

LIV - Voronin (12min); Torres (90+1min);
TOT - Keane (45, 47min);

A last-gasp header from Fernando Torres rescued a barely deserved point for the Reds as they once again, stuttered to finish line and was on the verge of a unimaginable second successive defeat at Anfield.

It was supposed to be a fortress and that Liverpool have reigned supreme there ever since Rafa Benitez took over in 2004. It seemed as though they have lost the aura of invincibility and also lacked confidence.

The visiting Tottenham fans were in full voice throughout the game, urging the men in white and giving them a boost despite their disappointing midweek draw with Aston Villa, which resulted in a 4-4 goal fest.

Liverpool's form of late had been abysmal and the result of this game meant that they haven't won a single game since the 1st of September. A certainly worrying sign for Rafa and his men in red.

It all seem ominous when Liverpool took the lead as early as the 12th minute when Andiry Voronin pounced on Paul Robinson's save and he was able to direct it into the net.

The England number one had a torrid time dealing with Steven Gerrard's free kick and he spilled it right into the path of the Ukrainian striker. He was once again beaten later at another free kick but the left hand post saved him.

Liverpool seemed to put away the midweek troubles behind and did alright but just didn't put enough pressure on the Spurs defence as they should have. As leaky as they have, they stood strong against the duo of Voronin and Torres.

Just when Liverpool thought they could go into the half time break with a one goal cushion, Robbie Keane was on hand to pounce on the static Liverpool defence and punish them just before the half time break.

Dimitar Berbatov's headed ball landed right in his path and that took Finnan and Carragher by surprise. The Irish striker did what he does best and hooked the ball just past Reina and into the empty net.

It was about to get worst for the men in reds.

Right after half time, Liverpool were once again punished for losing concentration and in an almost identical situation, Robbie Keane lost his marker and was able to slammed the ball past the helpless Reina.

Liverpool were caught out and the one goal lead has now gone up the smokes. Perhaps Daniel Agger's injury has cost them some problems and Sami Hyypia isn't getting any younger. The big Finn was constantly beaten in the air by Berbatov. A rare sight considering how he is best at dealing with aerial threats.

Then it was a deja vu image for the Liverpool fans as they had to sit through the last 20 minutes thinking about how the season that promised so much had sort of gone pear shape in such a short period of time.

Liverpool then got hold of the stranglehold of the game and relentlessly pushing Spurs onto the backfoot. And the urban myth about how Spurs usually fail to hold on to lead came true once again, right on the full time mark.

Steve Finnan's deep cross found Fernando Torres, who leaped like a salmon over Younes Kaboul and Pascal Chimbonda, before scoring a thumping header right into Paul Robinson's near post. It was at the nick of time and the striker paid dividends of the manager's trust in him.


Performance wise, it's an improvement from the diabolical display on Thursday but this is still not good enough. There seemed to be a problem with Liverpool when it comes to retaining possession and coming up with attacking moves.

Perhaps Rafa's tinkering is really not working at the moment and the players doesn't have the time to glue and gel into a unit. They seemed complete strangers on the pitch at times.

And where was the constant pressure from the team that we've seen in the past? We used to surround teams and batter them but now it seemed like we focussed too much on utilising the pace and movement of Torres and there are just too much aimless ball sprayed everywhere.

The aura of fear that Liverpool usually impose on teams seemed to be dissipating as well and it's not a good sign. It might be due to lack of confidence or other factor but we need to buck up and do something about this.

International break is here and it's time for Rafa to take a good look at things and make it right before the October 20th big clash with Everton. A lot is at stake for that game and much is expected from them.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reds Stumble At Home

Sissoko 'Stars' In Shock Loss

UEFA Champions League

LIVERPOOL 0 - 1 Marseille

OM - Valbueno (77min);

Liverpool's hope of qualifying for the Champions League knock out phase was dealt with a major blow after a shocking 1-0 defeat at the hands of French Ligue 1 side, Olympique Marseille. Even the word 'poor' would be a major understatement as to how Liverpool performed last night.

It was abysmal. It was disgusting. It was insipid. It was a true horror show for the Liverpool fans, especially in front of the Anfield faithfuls.

After drawing their opening fixture against Porto, Liverpool surely had to do better at home and under Benitez, the Red's home record is second to none, especially in Europe.

But last night, it was a freak show and a one that Rafa Benitez would later describe as the 'worst performance' at home since he took over in 2004. Even I couldn't believe my eyes as to how Liverpool were totally outplayed and outclassed all over the pitch despite being the home side. If I didn't mention, you wouldn't even believe they were the home side!

Liverpool were slow and sluggish from the start and the ball retention was horrible, especially with the technically liable Momo Sissoko in the middle. I will go on about him later but first overall as a team, there was no communication and it was as though everyone just knew each other only on the night itself.

There was no passing and absolutely NO movement. The formation was sparse and was made worst when Marseille played the high line and putting extra pressure on the team. Daniel Agger's injury meant Sami Hyypia had to deputise and his lack of pace caused Liverpool to drop deeper and therefore, easier to be pressurised.

There was absolutely no width provided by Yossi Benayoun, who was brilliant for the previous 2 games, and the inexperience Sebastian Leto. They squeezed inwards too often and too quickly, giving Marseille a lot of space to exploit.

Peter Crouch was up front with Fernando Torres and the duo had to feed off scrapes for the entire game as the Liverpool midfield failed to provide them with the necessary ammunition and long balls from Hyypia and Reina didn't help either.

At times, we really looked like a pub team. Or sometimes, Wimbledon circa late 90s. It was long ball after long ball to Crouch and then lose possession.

Credit to Marseille though, they came with a brilliant game plan and stuck with it. They had a perfectly alright goal ruled out for offside while managed to contain Liverpool for the entire 90 minutes without sweat. Their high line and high pressuring tactic worked wonder at Anfield.

That's why when Valbueno bent that unstoppable shot into Anfield Road End goal, many weren't surprised. It was reaping what they sowed and they deserved it 100%.

Only when knowing that time is running out, Liverpool started to panic and started to do something about the game. Their best chance of the game fell to Fernando Torres who blasted it against the post.

It just wasn't Liverpool's night.

But it wasn't just lady luck not smiling at the men in red. Liverpool deserves absolutely nothing from this game and there is now a lot for Rafa to do because this performance is totally unacceptable and it is disgusting.

How could we only muster a single pathetic shot on goal for the entire 90 minutes at Anfield? It's just beggars belief while the selection of Momo Sissoko will really come under scrutiny from the Liverpool fans in days to come.

The Malian midfielder was quite a revelation in his first season but has since gone downhill and last night was probably one of his 'finest' night. He was basically all over the place but not doing much.

His first touch is so poor that his second usually results in a reckless challenge or totally loses possession. His passing was at his 'usual best' and didn't provide much to attack nor defence. He was nowhere here nor there so I'm not sure what he was doing for the entire 90 minutes on the pitch.

Seriously, sort this out. Even for captain, Steven Gerrard, there is no escape of criticism. He was poor as well as many of the usually reliable players. It was just a total nightmare and don't take this as a knee jerk reaction because I've never been so frustrated watching Liverpool before, until last night.

Spurs next and Rafa needs to do something to freshen things up and get the lads going again or it'll really turn ugly.