Friday, August 24, 2007

Thank You Lil' Luis

After his letter written to the fans was posted up few days back, I have nothing but more respect for the Atletico man. It's seldom players demonstrating such love for a club and it's fan despite leaving and for that, I'll say good luck and all the best in Spain.

Upon the appointment of Rafa Benitez back in 2004/2005 season, Luis Garcia was one of the first few players brought in to give the squad a little more creativity and flair, something which we've lacked in the Houllier era.

He's able to pry open defences not in the way of Gary McAllister's passing or Danny Murphy's direct approach but he's pretty much a schemer, moving into brilliant positions and his favored position is no doubt the 'hole' position, just behind the striker, where he showed time and again that despite his lack of physical prowess, he's still able to catch defences by surprise with well-timed runs and positioning himself at the right place, right time.

One thing that the Liverpool fans will never forget is his unpredictability and his volatile nature of play. Many put it in simple words, 'brilliant one moment, dreadful the next'. But that makes him a very special player in our view.

Those picture probably brings back good memories of the first victory over Chelsea since the post-Abramovich era, the night when the whole of Anfield erupted and probably the night which sparked off Liverpool's revival, back into the scene.

Till now, fans are still having different viewpoints as to whether the ball had crossed the line but as it stands, he scored the goal which brought us back to football prominence, winning the most prestigious cups of all, the European Cup.

The Road to Istanbul also had Luis Garcia's footprint all over it and he definitely played a major role in that triumphant pilgrim to the holy grail. His goal against Bayer Leverkusen and most notably, Juventus, got Liverpool past each stages of the competition.

Not forgetting as well, he had a hand in the FA Cup with a goal against who else but Chelsea. A beautifully lobbed goal past Carlo Cudicini which gave Liverpool the chance to lift the biggest domestic cup.

Definitely a player for the big occasions, he scored countless others against other Premiership opponents. Injury did somehow hamper him from further glory last season but his contributions to the team was never in doubt.

Garcia does have a hand in Liverpool's rise to glory in the past 3 years and that many Liverpool fans like me will probably look back in 10 years time and thank someone like him for all the wonderful memories and also assisting the team to recover from mediocrity to supremacy.

We love you Luis, we hope you start drinking sangria!

No Gerrard, No Problem?

Once dubbed the 'one man team' by the media due to their reliance on Steven Gerrard, Liverpool will take the opportunity tomorrow to prove that they are able to cope with the absence of Steven Gerrard with little fuss.

The skipper played in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea last week with the help of pain-killing injection and he missed out also on England's latest defeat to Germany on Thursday.

With a hairline fracture on his toe, Rafa Benitez is seemingly unwilling to risk the captain for the trip to Sunderland with the Champions League 3rd round qualifier just round the corner, on Wednesday.

The captain was instrumental in Liverpool's decent start to the new 07/08 Premiership season with one goal and one assist. His presence will be sorely missed but up against Roy Keane's Sunderland, Liverpool probably found a right time to rest the skipper.

Saturday's game will be an early kick-off and obviously it ticked Rafa off as he launched a tirade at Premier League and their supposed biasness towards the other big teams while victimising Liverpool.

After failing to land Gabriel Heinze, who then joined Real Madrid, Rafa was clearly annoyed by the case in which was given in favour of ManYoo.

With Heinze joining up with the Spanish champions, Liverpool will most likely not make any more first team signing.

Other than Gerrard, the missing players list goes on with the likes of Harry Kewell and Fabio Aurelio. Both of them missed large chunks of last season and are eager to get fit so as to cement a place in the side, which is getting more competitive each passing year.

Already, news report mentioned about Yossi Benayoun's displeasure with Rafa and his constant tinkering and squad rotation. Whether it is true or not is unclear but Yossi should very well know Rafa's management style and that it's part of his doctrine that brought success to Liverpool in the past 3 years.

Tomorrow will be a showcase of Liverpool without Gerrard and that with several choices in the central midfield area, Rafa shouldn't have much problem filling the gap with either Momo Sissoko, Javier Mascherano or even Lucas Leiva alongside Xabi Alonso.

Liverpool (from): Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Hyypia, Arbeloa, Riise, Pennant, Mascherano, Alonso, Gerrard, Benayoun, Sissoko, Voronin, Crouch, Kuyt, Torres, Babel, Itandji.

Drogballs' Prediction: Sunderland 0-2 Liverpool.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Comical Fergie

I think other than the Liverpool vs Chelsea game on Sunday night, much attention was also focused on the Manchester derby. A new look Man City under the guidance of England's favourite manager, Sven Goran-Eriksson, got all 3 points despite giving ManYoo 98% of the possession.

One thing struck me during the match though. The camera panned towards Fergie when Tevez missed a sitter from 2 yards out and his reaction was....


To put it into context...



I'm On Newspaper

Well it was my first attempt to write in to the local newspaper named The Newpaper here in Singapore. They wanted to hear from us, the fans for the post-match reactions and so I wrote in one very brief piece and comparing it to the one I wrote previously, it's like a uber-summarised version.

But anyway, I got on!

Yes, I'm James if you ain't aware :)

Anyway there are probably more positives to take out of the Chelsea game if we stand further back and take a look at it from a different perspective. Fernando Torres getting on the score sheet so early in the season was a big positive for me and also, scoring against Chelsea will certainly boost his confidence and also, establishing himself at the club fairly quickly.

And why kick Chelsea out of the race so quickly? Let's do them at later part of the season shall we? Its when it hurts the most, eh?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Liverpool ROB-bed In STYLE

Styles' Performance Overshadows Torres' Home Debut

English Premiership

LIVERPOOL 1 - 1 Chelsea

LIV - Torres (16min);
CHE - Lampard (pen 62min);

(Carragher says 'GO HOME YOU T**T')

Diabolical. One word to describe Rob Styles' handling of the high profile match between the 2 English giants. In a match where so much matters, he cracked under pressure and I'm fairly sure he will not escape scrutiny for the days to come.

We're probably used to some odd decisions here and inconsistency there but how can a referee who's taking charge of one of the biggest game in the English football calender lost the plot like he did?

Absolutely shambolic. Awarding the non-existent penalty that probably robbed Liverpool off all 3 points and what's more to come? Showing Michael Essien 2 yellowcards in a single match but failed to send him off. One has got to wonder what do the referees write on their cards. Do they even note down who they book?

Where's the professionalism? How did it happen at such a big stage such as this?

Before going off-track, I just want to say Liverpool probably did just enough to grab all 3 points just like they did at Toulouse 3 days ago but yet another controversial decision from the man in black changed the course of the game totally.

Chances were at its premium and that both teams know that they can't afford to lose this game. Leaving Anfield with no point would probably means an uphill task for any of the teams so as often as we've seen Liverpool vs Chelsea, it was a fairly controlled game with a few sparkles here and there.

Most pleasantly, Liverpool's record signing scored in his full home debut and it really didn't take him long to get off the block. Unlike what I've predicted previously, it took him only 16 minutes before scoring his first goal for Liverpool infront of the Anfield faithful.

The goal just showed us what we've lacked over the years. Sheer pace, power and composure. He took the ball past a static Tal Ben Haim before calmly slotting it past Petr Cech. It was a goal of the highest quality. Something which we've lacked all these while.

As Jose Mourinho is never afraid to make changes, he took off an ineffective Saloman Kalou in the second half and the introduction of Claudio Pizzaro did cause a few scares for Liverpool. His aerial prowess along with Drogba's doggedness meant that the defence marshaled by Carragher will have to hang on for the second period.

Chelsea looked extremely dangerous when it comes to set pieces yet they failed to capitalise while Torres and Kuyt were constantly harrying and pressurising the Chelsea defence with Gerrard roaming from the centre of the field.

Just when everything looked good for Liverpool, Rob Styles made an absolutely terrible decision in awarding Chelsea a penalty.

With the ball played well behind him, Florent Malouda clattered into Steve Finnan but it was the Irish defender who was penalised. Lampard stepped up routinely to slot the ball past Reina.

Then another point of controversy came when a heated argument between the Chelsea players and referee Rob Styles became a card waving ceremony for them as he went bonkers, giving out as many yellow cards as possible.

That includes the already booked Michael Essien.

Through his body language, you could tell he knew he was off. He had his hands on his head. But well, he just decided to be magnanimous and let him off the hook.

Oh yes, magnanimous is a fairly tame word to use. There are other more nasty ones but I for one, can't be bothered since I believe his performance will no doubt come under major scrutiny from the national press and also the football association.

For a man to take on the role of a referee in such a high profile game, Rob Styles really must have bottled it big time and if this shambolic piece of refereeing doesn't go under investigations, there must be something wrong up there.

Shame on you, Styles. Shame on YOU.