Saturday, August 11, 2007

Liverpool vs Villa Preview!

English Premiership
Round 1

Villa Park
Aston Villa vs LIVERPOOL

Here we go lads, this is it. After 3 months of speculating transfers and listening out for rumours, the most important and most anticipated day is here.

With the revolving door of Liverpool moving really quickly this summer, there'll be some new faces and also some that have left us, probably unnoticed by you. But that's not the point.

This summer marks a turning point in Liverpool's history and the financially modest club is now willing to spend up to 20million GBP for a player showed the ambition of the club and it's owners.

But what is ambition when Liverpool often fell at the first hurdle, especially in recent times. Fans looking forward to the new season only to be disappointed right from the first game of the season. Last season's escape at Bramall Lane is one fine example.

This time round, it still wouldn't be easy.

Away at the revitalised and rejuvenated Aston Villa, they are a formidable opponents with some key signings in the summer such as Nigel Reo-Coker and Marlon Harewood, both from West Ham.

Manager, Martin O'Neill, has indeed inculcated a new style for the Villains, who have been slumbering for the past 2 decades or so. Despite winning the European Cup back in the 80s, they never seemed to build on it.

With American owner, Randy Lerner, acquiring the club last season, they have truly reformed and are ready to take the Premiership by storm. They are a bunch of disciplined and hardworking players and that makes up for their inferiority in the technical aspect.

To face Villa away from home in the first fixture is surely not the ideal circumstance to the uphill climb towards the holy grail but with almost no injury problems and new faces, Rafa Benitez has everything at his disposal and he just have to get it right this time round.

Fernando Torres look likely to partner Dutch striker, Dirk Kuyt upfront, leaving former Villa man, Peter Crouch, on the bench. Yossi Benayoun, too, is likely to replace Jermaine Pennant on the right flank after his impressive display in the friendlies.

Most importantly, and the most welcoming news is that Steven Gerrard will claim a central midfield spot.

Villa lost Thomas Sorensen, their goalkeeper, to injury earlier last week and that Stuart Taylor will replace him in goal. New loan signing, Scott Carson, arrives from Liverpool but is ineligible to take part in this game.

John Carew looks set to partner Gabriel Agbonlahor upfront with new signing, Nigel Reo-Coker supporting from central midfield, making his competitive debut.

Predicted Liverpool Lineup: Reina, Finnan, Agger, Carragher, Riise, Benayoun, Gerrard, Mascherano, Kewell, Kuyt, Torres;

Drogballs' Prediction: Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool. An optimistic one, considering how much I rate Villa. But I think we have just enough quality to edge past them and probably win it by a moment of brilliance from someone.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Kick Out Racism"?

We've heard that over and over again from the corporate bigwigs, whether is it UEFA or FIFA. But reading what FIFA vice president, Jack Warner, said about England, I think these organisations aren't really doing what they're preaching.

In short, just pure hypocritical.

"If the World Cup were to go to Europe, I'm quite sure, with the English luck as it is, they won't get it,"

"Nobody in Europe likes England. England invented the sport but has never made any impact on world football."

These are the quotes, out of the mouth of the vice president of the organisation which encourages anti-racism. Maybe it's good to have a review of the plan and check as to what 'racism' REALLY mean.

rac·ism: a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

As you might have notice, racism isn't all about people chanting monkey chants at African players or jeering the black players but rather, having discrimination against certain group of human beings, or marginalised so to speak.

I'm no England fan, but as a football fan, I'm once again truly disgusted as to how such obnoxious people could get into such a high place in a major sporting association. UEFA did it months ago with Liverpool. Now FIFA sounded like the perfect 'daddy' of it all.

No wonder I'm losing interest in it altogether...

The Summer Acquisitions

It has been a very busy summer for Liverpool indeed and those panicky and to be honest, the club sealed those deals pretty effectively this time round with less hassling. Back in June when things were so quiet and us, as fans, got so panicky and scared. But soon, those fears were unfounded.

Here's a quick recap of players who are signed for the first team and will probably appear in the TV near you!

Fernando Torres

The new Liverpool record signing from Athletico Madrid will have to share the goalscoring burden along with Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch for the upcoming season.

Liverpool's problem in recent times had always been scoring goals and the failure to stick the ball into the onion bag cost us titles on countless of occasions.

His pre-season showing have been mixed and judgment won't made until the time is right. Although it is believed that he'll have to get quickly off his block and score his first goal for the club as soon as possible or the 'Peter Crouch effect' we've seen in the 05-06 season will probably manifest itself again.

As the most expensive player bought by Liverpool in it's long and glorious history, fans are expecting and anticipating something big from the Spaniard. Expectations reap pressure for him but I'm sure he'll handle it well.

Rough Prediction: He'll take awhile before scoring his first goal, like Peter Crouch. But once he find his confidence and momentum, he will come good. Will probably score around 15 goals.

Andriy Voronin

Looking the business there, isn't it?

His move was obviously overshadowed by Fernando Torres' and that he moved into the club almost silently, without much attention.

But from his pre-season friendly performance, many started to sit up and take notice of the man Rafa got for free when he had resources at his disposal. Well you can argue that he got Voronin when the takeover was still in doubt but I believe Rafa had faith in his ability.

He looked perfectly fitted for the hustle and bustle of the Premiership, big, strong and good in the air. What's more, he's the sort of footballer Rafa love. Intelligence on the pitch itself plus hard-work and determination.

But then again, jury is still yet to be out for the man who partnered Andiry Shevchenko in the World Cup. He might look pretty fine during the pre-season but even Bruno Cheyrou looked good back then......

Rough Prediction: Won't make too many appearances but will certainly make some impact, being a surprise player. Will score around 5-9 goals in all competition, optimistic view though.

Ryan Babel & Yossi Benayoun

The reason why I combined both of them into one section is because...they look really good together in the picture...

No, just kidding. It's because I've no idea where they'll exactly play and how they'll fit into Rafa's rotation policy and his formation.

Ryan Babel looked pretty much like an Henry-esque winger cum striker sort of player who always looked to drift into the flanks. He's known for his speed and also his shooting accuracy from range. His shots does pack a punch!

Yossi Benayoun was the playmaker of West Ham in their peak period, when they narrowly lost to Liverpool in the memorable 2006 FA Cup finals. He played a major role in the Hammers uprising and that his ability to create and his creative vision made him the perfect player to replace Luis Garcia, who was offloaded to Atletico Madrid.

Rafa is a long time admirer of Benayoun even back in the days when Yossi was still playing for Spanish side, Racing Santander. He was delighted to finally land his man after such a long time.

Benayoun will probably appear on the flanks more often than not and he will have to fend off competition from fellow wingers, Jermaine Pennant and Harry Kewell and secure a place in the side.

Babel still have got a lot to learn and his inexperience means his appearance will be limited to perhaps some cup games and a handful of league games. Rafa will probably let him develop at his own pace and not rush him in, with still so many players at his disposal.

Charles Itandje

Currently, no official news from but most football sites seemed to think the deal is done. He will replace Scott Carson, who will leave on loan to Aston Villa, as Liverpool's number 2.

Not much is known of this goalkeeper but one thing that struck me was his built. He's 1.93m tall and observers who watched the French Ligue One mentioned that despite his built, he's agile and quick.

Will have to wait for the official news to filter through before I start blabbering on and then becoming a fool in the end!

Lucas Leiva

An exciting prospect coming from the home of football, Brazil. Football talents are rolled out year after year without fail yet this is a Brazilian U-20 captain afterall.

Said to be in the mold of Steven Gerrard, a box to box midfielder, his appearance would also be limited as the central midfield are congested with talents such as Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso.

Despite having so much talent in the middle of the park, Rafa still went ahead to capture the playmaker from Gremio and it speaks about Rafa's faith on Lucas. He's adamant that he will succeed at Liverpool and that's the reason why.

Spending might not be done yet as the Gabriel Heinze saga continues to loom but do watch out for these new blood in Liverpool. let's hope, pray and cross our fingers that our summer acquisitions will turn out to be who Rafa wants them to be and to fully unleash their potential.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Reason Why Lampard Is Still At Chelsea

In the coming months, we'll cover why he's in the England squad. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Pre-season Friendly?! Pardon?

Gerrard Turns From Hero To Zero, Nearly

Port of Rotterdam Tournament

Feyenoord 1 - 1 Liverpool

FEY - Drenthe
LIV - Gerrard


A pre-season friendly tournament that was supposed to prepare the team for the upcoming season nearly became a free for all wrestling match as Liverpool could only carve out a draw at the De Kuip stadium to hold home side, Feyenoord to a draw.

The incident erupted after Royston Drenthe made a harsh tackle on skipper, Steven Gerrard, in the middle of the pitch but the foul was not seen by the referee. Then Javier Mascherano impulsively flew in with a rash tackle to floor Drenthe right after that.

Then it was a real 'handbags' match that involved almost everyone on the pitch. For a sign of respect, Gerrard was 'substituted' for Sissoko but should've been sent off in an actual match.

The game was highly competitive in some ways and that even though it was only a friendly, the referee wasn't afraid to pull out a card or two. Liverpool had 6 players booked and that sort of summed up a pretty frustrating evening for the Reds.

Despite dominating large periods of the game, it was Feyenoord who took the undeserving lead just before half time, with Royston Drenthe scoring from close range.

The Dutch winger, who bore resemblance to a young Clarence Seedorf, gave Liverpool defence a runaround and was a pain in the neck for Alvaro Arbeloa, who looked out of sort throughout the match. He conceded some silly fouls while not looking sharp and ready for the season at all.

Dirk Kuyt, who made an emotional return to his former club, should've scored in the first half but the linesman adjudged that his shot didn't cross the line. Video evidence was pretty inconclusive but we've seen instances where it is given.

But Gerrard was once again, on hand to score the all important equaliser as he powered his way into the heart of the Feyenoord defence before slotting it home from an acute angle.

It epitomises Gerrard's importance in the central midfield position and that Rafa have promised to give him more appearance in the middle rather than on the flanks.

While searching for the winner, it turned into frustration and contempt as the referee made a terrible mistake by rewarding Feyenoord a penalty kick after Drenthe's cross was adjudged to have been blocked by Arbeloa's arm.

Slow motion replays show it hit his head rather than his arm. Even if it did, there's nothing Arbeloa could do to withdraw his hand in time. It was a harsh decision.

It all evens out eventually, even from the penalty spot. Spot kick expert, Pepe Reina, dived to his right to save from the spot.

With the referee making some erroneous and puzzling decision throughout the game, he lost control of the game and soon emotions boiled even though it was only a friendly.

The competitive edge was there and that it was a disgrace that it soon turned into a very un-football-like circumstance.

Liverpool will be disappointed to lose out on another pre-season silverware but it's not important as the kick off for the new season is only 5 days away.

Are we ready for the new season yet? I'll cover it on my next article. To be honest, I was quite disappointed by last night's performance We need something extra to give us the edge next week or it's going to be yet another long season of nothingness in terms of the domestic league.