Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yossi to the rescue

That was close, and it shouldn't have been. Wigan aren't very good but we made hard work of it. But maybe it's time to look at the table and saw we picked up another 3 points on the road (10 from 12) and we still have a game in hand. We're not playing great, but like Utd, we're getting the wins. If we can keep this up for the next few weeks until Xabi and Dagger return I'll be happy enough.

We did create a lot of chances but didn't put any away. Nando had a good chance in the first half after he was put through on Kirkland. Our former keep did well in coming out early and saved well. The rebound came off Torres and went narrowly wide. Gerrard had a few shots and Kirkland made a few more saves.

It was looking like the game was headed for a third successive premier league draw when Yossi stuck his oar in. His turn and dribble reminded me of Bergkamp against Newcastle a few years ago. Yossi's goal wasn't quite of that quality but was hugely impressive nonetheless. He has a fantastic ability to drift effortlessly past defenders and the ball control skills to embarrass even the toughest of opponents. He's a joy to watch and is pushing hard for a starting place after his goals here and against Reading in midweek.

Wigan pushed us hard until the final whistle and had a few chances. They will complain that they didn't get the rub of the green or any favourable decisions from the Ref. Maybe we're cashing in our Karma from the Chelsea match. Our defence wasn't what it usually is. Riise didn't have a great match. With Sami in for Agger, we are sitting deeper to compensate for his lack of pace. Added to that is the problem that our distribution out of defence is worse and Sami doesn't carry the ball out the way Dagger does. We miss the kid and the sooner he comes back the better.

Champions league returns this week and Marseilles visit Anfield on Wed night. Given the law of the Ex, expect to see Cisse have a stormer and score a few. In reality, I don't think that they're up to much and are doing shit in Ligue 1. They recently changed their manager so it might be good time to play them.

Gerardo Bruna - remember that name. He's a 16 year old Argentine player that we've signed from Real Madrid. They were expecting great things from him and were angry at losing him. He's already been dubbed "the new Messi" (is the old one old?). Not placing any pressure on him then.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The boy's done well

Three and easy for Torres. It was a great performance from the new signing and a good team performance all round. Yossi opened the scoring the first half with an amazing individual goal. Nice to see him get off the mark and show his skill at unlocking a defence. Then it was time for Fernando to take the stage. Good work for Seb Leto set up Torres for the first goal. He held off the attention of the defender and slipped it under the keeper. His second came after a nice delivery when Riise got past his man on the left. El Nino finished from just inside the area with a shot to the corner which gave the Reading keeper no chance. His final goal was the result of a fantastic through ball from Stevie G. Torres was 1 on 1 with the keeper and showed great composure to shoot beyond the goalie. Rafa will be disappointed that we conceded two but the first goal was offside. The second was poor defending and our new keeper didn't cover himself in glory. Lucas wasn't bad in the midfield but did fade somewhat as the match went on. Overall a very satisfying night.

It's a visit to the JJB tomorrow. Wigan have done better than I've expected this season. I was tipping them for relegation in August but they're looking like they will stay up if their form continues. Heskey has been doing well for them but he's not fit for tomorrow which is good news. He has his critics, and deservedly so, but when he's on form he's a nightmare for defences. I expect us to win this one. We've taken 7 from 9 points away from home so far and 10 from 12 would be a good boost to our title aspirations.

Crouch praised how Torres has settled in here. Gerrard reckons that he could be a modern day Ian Rush. High praise indeed.

LFC TV has launched officially now. I've watched a few programmes but have yet to see the John Barnes chat show. I'm looking forward to that one as I'm hearing good reports.

Some great old photo's from the BBC here. The bootroom one is special. Bring a tear to the glass eye. Have a look at these for some great photos of Liverpool in the 80's.For those who've been to the city recently it's interesting to see how different it looked 20 years ago. Some changes.

Until next time.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sometimes a point just aint enough

Maybe we aren't as good as the 6-0 win over Derby suggested. But I don't think we're as bad as some people think after the scoreless draw at home with Birmingham on Saturday. The reaction has seen some poeple question Rafa. I feel that it's way too early for that. It reminds me of the reaction to the Burnley FA cup defeat in 2005 when some people said that we were the worst Liverpool team in living memory. That wasn't true then and was proved to be a knee jerk reaction. Then, as now, patience is the key.

Let's take stock. We're upbeaten. We've yet to concede a goal in open play. We've dropped less points than Utd. We've taken 7 points from 9 away from home which is far better than any previous season under Rafa and is the best of any team in the league. On the downside, we're not playing well and don't look like scoring too many. We still struggle to break down a team without ambition away from home like Brum. There has been a lot of talk of rotation but regardless of that, the team we fielded should have been good enough to beat Birmingham at home.

They stuck all of their men behind the ball and didn't attack. They came for a point and got it, which is fair enough. They're entitled to do it and it's up to us to dismantle their massed defence. On Sat we were unable to do that. It was frustrating to watch. I hope that we don't have too many more days like it this season. It's a pity that Yossi couldn't play due to the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. I think that he could have been good at unlocking the packed defence. Gerrard was poor again on Saturday and hasn't looked right since the England game. There has been some speculation that he's still feeling his toe injury. I hope that he regains his form soon as we need him while Xabi is out.

Tomorrow night we can look forward to visiting Reading in the Carling Cup. This fixture ended up 4-3 last season when we beat them in the Carling Cup. I would be happy enough with that score again tomorrow. I would imagine that we'll see heavy rotation with many of the kids and fringe players getting a run out, and why not? The main fit defenders are likely to be rested giving the likes of Hobbs and maybe Arbeloa a chance at centre half. Let's hope that it does end up 8-0 and there aren't any injuries.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Porto prevail

Sometimes you play well and lose. Sometimes you play badly and win. Sometimes you play well and the ref robs you, like what happened against Chelsea. Sometimes you play shit and get away with a draw. That's what happened in the Dragao on Tuesday when we drew 1-1. It was a fairly poor game and we didn't play well at all. It was one of those nights where nobody had a particularly good game. They started off like a rocket and scored with the eight minutes. We were suffering from shell shock but we did manage to get our act together somewhat as the half went on. Sami flicked on a Finnan cross and Dirk Kuyt was there to score from close range. It was an important goal at an imporant time.

In the second half Pennant got riled up, not for the first time. He was sent off for an idiotic tackle on Fucile. Porto players went down easy enough but there is no accounting for Pennants stupidity. It was a needless tackle and put extra pressure on the team. I doubt that Rafa was too impressed with that. We improved defensively after that and won a hard fought point.

But while a point away was a good result, the bad news that Xabi and Dagger are injured arrived today. While we have enough cover in central midfield, we could be a bit short at the back. Sami is short of pace but he'll do his best over the next four to six weeks. Sami isn't as accomplished a passer and tends to hoof the ball out of defence more. This has a knock on effect on our play which we'll have to try and minimise. We might even see Arbeloa play a few games there. Jack Hobbs might come into contention for the easier games. IT's going to be tough but we should be able to get through. We face Everton away on Oct 20th and then Arsenal at home a week later. I hope that we have them back at that stage but that would mean some quick healing is required.

Bring on Brum. Handy home win required.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pepe protects point

How's your glass? I think that mine is still half full. But I can't help but feel that this was two points dropped. We knew that Portsmouth is a tough place to go and get three points. They held Utd to a 1-1 draw earlier on this season. It could have been worse. If it weren't for Pepe saving a Kanu penalty, then we could have been looking at our first defeat of the season. We did create a few chances. Crouch forced James into a good save early in the first half. Voronin hit the top of the bar and Torres should have done better after being put through on the keeper with a few minutes to go. Much talk, predictably from Andy Grey, was about Gerrard being on the bench. I think that it was an understandable decision given that his fitness was in question and he just played 2 games in four days for England. Plus we had top quality replacements to come in in the form of Xabi and Momo. Brum at home next weekend should be a much easier challenge.

El Nino revealed that he spurned our rivals to Nice one my son. Given Utd's profligacy in front of goal this season maybe they should have bought him instead of Tevez.

We're signing the central defender Ayala. But rather than the Argentine rock who played for Rafa at Valencia, this lad is 17 and plays for Sevilla. This could be promising as Sevilla have a great youth policy. If he goes on to be half the player that his namesake is, then we could have a serious prospect on our hands.

Champions league returns on Tuesday night. There is something fantastically exciting about hearing the theme music belting out over messages from the sponsors and partners. It nearly makes me go out and buy some Continental tyres, even though I don't have a car. I went through a phase of only drinking Amstel as it was my tipple of choice in the 2005 campaign. Champions league make the darkening of the evenings and the approach of cold winter evenings somewhat less off putting. The road is long and unpredictable. It could end up anywhere - Istanbul, Athens or maybe Moscow. It might end after the group stage as it did for Utd two years ago when they finished bottom of a group with Lille, Benfica and Villareal. The first stop on our continental tour is Porto on Tuesday night. They have some good players in Quaresma and Lucho González. I think that Rafa will go for a win but a draw away from home wouldn't be a bad result.

Roll on 7.45 on Tuesday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Demolition Derby

I go away for one week and it all hell breaks loose. Rafa and Pako have decided to split after 11 years and go their separate ways. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

But while there was turmoil off the pitch, on it there was the kind of ruthless attacking display which we haven't seen at Anfield in a while. It's common for us to beat teams but rare for us to put them to the sword in such a convincing manner. Often we would take our foot off the pedal once the game was won. Not so against Derby. Derby were happy to sit back and defend but it didn't do them much good. We attacked with wave after wave of devestating penetration. By halftime it was 3-0 and 6-0 at full time. Torres and Alonso scored a brace each with Voronin getting one and Babel scoring the pick of the bunch. Rout complete and job done.

Funnily, some people are still saying that Torres a) is overrated b) is overpriced (a potential £18m which is in the same bracket as Bent or Anderson) c) is a Spanish striker and therefore will never adapt. He's now scored three goals in four matches and is looking fantastic. Have a read of this for a great Torres interview.

Liverpool travel to Fratten Park to face Portsmouth on Sat at 12.45. This has been a tough fixture for us in the past but I expect us to be able to win here. It won't be 6-0 but it could well be a 2-0 or 2-1. Let's hope that we don't get any injuries on wed and that Carra and Finnan have recovered in time for kick off.

There was one signing before transfer deadline day in Damien Plessi who's a 19 year old french midfielder. He's joined from Lyon and will be playing with the reserves this season. Given the amount of young midfielders and centre halves that we've bought recently, we'll have to play to 5-5-0 formation with the reserves.

The big news off the pitch was that assistant manager and fitness guru Pako Ayestarán has left the club. I'm a bit surprised about this but Ballague was talking about him on the Game podcast. He said that the pair haven't been getting on for a while. It seems that Pako will not be directly replaced and his duties will be shared among Alex Miller, Paco De Miguel and the other coaches, at least for the moment.

I didn't get to see the Irish match on Sat as I was sat in Firenze, enjoying the sunshine. Managed to take in the Italy v France match which was decent but lacked a goal. Tuscany kicks Ireland's ass any day of the week. Oh for more fantastic meals and wine at low prices.

Buona sera.